This morning I had the incredible opportunity of attending the Farm Aid 2013 press event here at Saratoga State Park's Little Theater. Board artists Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews sat down to discuss the reasons why Farm Aid is still taking place after 28 years. They were joined on-stage by Farm Aid artist Jack Johnson, Carolyn Mugar, and farmers Ben and Lindsey Shute.
These artists, advocates, and farmers have all gathered as eaters to create a stronger movement for a change in our food system. They said that in order to fuel the good food movement, we need family farmers, now more than ever. We need a farm and food system that nurtures our health and values our soil and water, a message that these participants powerfully communicated.
"It is a collective commitment to make family farmers the center of our food system, and we will never give up," said Farm Aid's Executive Director, Carolyn Mugar.
Neil Young discussed the problems with climate change and the possible solutions aided by the help of farmers, while John Mellencamp discussed his concern for the loss of small towns and farms across America. Both emphasized that farmers are the backbone of our country, who continue to struggle to keep their farms growing good food and that is why Farm Aid is still here today. Farmers are the people who are going to grow and maintain where we live, and we need to do everything we can to support them.
"If you want a better world, it starts with you," said John Mellencamp. He is right. It is all about connecting and coming together to take action and make a change. The push to keep growing, and keep supporting the family farmer appeared to be the major theme of the event. It certainly left me, and probably everyone else in the room thinking, "What can I do this year to stand up for family farmers?"