Farm Aid, the longest-running concert for a cause, was first staged by Nelson and his fellow musicians at a time when a wave of foreclosures were pushing family farmers off their land. Since 1985, Farm Aid has raised $53 million for programs to benefit family farmers and to support a family farm-centered food system in the United States.
The annual music and food festival takes place this year in an economic climate as harsh as the one that led to the first Farm Aid. Wisconsin, nicknamed “America’s Dairyland,” is one of the nation’s leading producers of dairy products, particularly famous for its cheese. The state’s dairy industry generates $43.4 billion each year and is a major force in the state’s economy, Farm Aid reports. Yet declining dairy prices have led to the loss of nearly 700 dairy farms in the state -- and some 3,000 nationwide -- in 2018 alone. Farm Aid’s hotline, offering farmer assistance, has seen a 109% increase in calls in the past year.
“With devastating weather, low prices and harmful farm and trade policies, America’s family farmers are facing immense challenges to hold on to their farms. It’s not right… family farmers are essential for all of us,” Nelson said in a statement released Tuesday (July 9).“By bringing our festival to the heart of the struggle, we will stand side by side with farmers. At Farm Aid 2019, we’ll highlight solutions and show our support for family farmers’ contributions to our health, economy and environment.”
Mellencamp says: "We’re bringing Farm Aid to the heartland because we need to show the country what's happening to the people who grow our food and take care of our soil and water. We want family farmers to know that we won’t let them go down without a fight. And neither should you -- farmers need us, and we need farmers."
Matthews adds: "Everybody in this country should have access to good food. And the people produce the best food -- our family farmers -- should be able to produce it without being afraid of going hungry themselves because they can't make ends meet. These are the values that bring Farm Aid to Wisconsin this year."