Last weekend’s virtual Farm Aid benefit concert, hosted by organization co-founder Willie Nelson, raised more than $500,000 to support American family farmers and ranchers affected by the coronavirus crisis.
Nelson performed at and hosted the hour-long live event on April 11, At Home With Farm Aid, along with his sons, Lukas and Micah Nelson. Thanks to a partnership with AXS TV, it featured at-home performances from Farm Aid co-founders Neil Young and John Mellencamp, and board member Dave Matthews.
While the show itself was free to watch, Farm Aid says the event helped it cull relief fund donations from all 50 states, and 15 countries. Farm Aid will use the dollars to offer family farmers and ranchers in need with emergency grants, as well as legal, financial and mental health support resources through its 1-800-FARM-AID hotline. It will also advocate for increased recovery funds from the federal government, and support local, state and national farm organizations working to help farmers navigate the crisis.
“The coronavirus has disrupted our entire country and is a grave threat to all of us. One of its many impacts is that it has helped us to better see the value of essential people like healthcare workers, grocery store clerks, delivery truck drivers, and farmers and ranchers,” Nelson said in a statement. “Farm Aid has worked for 35 years to build a family farm centered agricultural system, and we are here now to support farmers and ranchers in this crisis, without whom we could not eat. The time to build a resilient family farm food system is now!”
The event is the latest in a string of virtual coronavirus-related benefit concerts. In March, Beatport’s massive, 33-hour ReConnect livestream raised $185,000 for various relief nonprofits; and Twitch’s 12-hour Stream Aid event, featuring artists like Steve Aoki and Diplo, raised $2.8 million for the World Health Organization (WHO). The star-studded, Elton John-hosted iHeart Living Room Concert For America raised another $10 million for Feeding America and First Responders Children’s Foundation.
Many more are to come: The WHO and Global Citizen’s upcoming One World: Together at Home special, which airs April 18 in collaboration with Lady Gaga, has already raised $35 million to support healthcare workers.