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2019 Farm Aid in WI Highlights Family Farmers' Struggles

Willie Nelson, shown above at Farm Aid 2018, organized the first Farm Aid along with Neil Young and John Mellencamp in 1985. (Brian Bruner/Bruner Photo)
Willie Nelson, shown above at Farm Aid 2018, organized the first Farm Aid along with Neil Young and John Mellencamp in 1985. (Brian Bruner/Bruner Photo)
September 10, 2019

EAST TROY, Wis. — Farm Aid is coming to Wisconsin next week to promote family farming. The music festival backed by Neil Young, Willie Nelson and other musicians has raised $57 million for farmers since it began in 1985.

On Sept. 21, musicians and fans will gather at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy.

Perry Brown, executive director of the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy, said farmers have struggled this year with low crop prices and a wet spring, and Farm Aid provides an opportunity to put a spotlight on their plight.

"I think the biggest thing that they do is just drawing attention to the issues out there in agriculture, especially for family farmers and for small farms across the country,” Brown said. “It's important to draw attention to those issues, and a lot of times it's something that people don't pay a lot of attention to."

Over the past year, farmers have felt the effects of President Donald Trump's trade war. The Trump administration has authorized two financial packages adding up to $28 billion to help farmers adversely affected by the fight.

Brown said the event's setting in East Troy is an opportunity to showcase agriculture in the state, especially in southeast Wisconsin.

"From a field-crop standpoint and from a dairy standpoint, and also we have a huge group of family farms here in this area that are practicing sustainable and organic agriculture,” he said.

Brown said resources from Farm Aid have helped his organization with a program that advises farmers on how to apply for value-added producer grants and other federal programs. This year's Farm Aid is sold out but can be streamed online at farmaid.org.

Disclosure: Michael Fields Agricultural Institute contributes to our fund for reporting on Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Rural/Farming, Sustainable Agriculture. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WI