Farm Aid 2004 was held at the White River Amphitheater on the Muckleshoot Reservation just outside of Auburn, Washington for their 19th year. Farm Aid is a benefit concert sponsored by Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews to support national, regional and local efforts to build and strengthen family farm food systems. They also promote sustainable agriculture, fight factory farms, advocate for fair farm prices. These family farms are closing down at the rate of 330 farms a week. Many family farms pride themselves on quality organic produce. With price undercutting by the conglomerates, the family farms cannot survive. Farm Aid asks that you shop at your neighborhood vegetable markets and buy from your local farmers.
Farm Aid also brings to our attention that produce in the groceries is not labeled where it comes from, nor does our government require this advisory. Legislation is needed to inform the public where their food comes from, so we can be aware how it is grown. Farm Aid was started to support the American farmer many years ago by this organization and continues to be needed more and more as more farms are closing down and losing out to the conglomerates and foreign imports. In a country that was partially founded on farming, of the 7 million farms producing in the 1930s, only 2 million remain today, And of those farms, about 500,000 were family-run in 2002.
Jesse Jackson spoke on behalf of all the billions of dollars being spent on Iraq that could have been used to address many of the problems that the farmers are facing today. Senator Maria Cantwell, from Washington advocated the need for the American public to write to their Senators. And support legislation to control the methods of farming so that the American people are being provided healthy produce. Another hot topic of discussion was biodiesel fuel. This is a vegetable fuel that can be used right now on diesel engines. We could run our autos without oil from other countries, not have to go to war over oil and support our farms. This is the purpose of Farm Aid to bring to the attention of America the needs of our farmers and what we can do to help them and help ourselves. "This is a national tragedy," said Carolyn Mugar, Farm Aid's executive director. "Thousands of family farmers have been abandoned by the government and forced off their land."
Many artists performed throughout the often rainy day to show their support for Farm Aid. There were the founders and organizers of Farm Aid - Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews who sang well known songs and interspersed their performances with information about the family farms. We were entertained by a variety of music from all different genres that support Farm Aid and their purpose. Trick Pony sang their hit “Pour Me.” Blue Merle, brought the country sound to Washington. Kitty Jerry, a blues singer that you should watch out for. Her music crosses over and goes beyond the blues. Kate Voegele a 17-year old beauty is taking the country music world by storm. Lucinda Williams had the audience going with her “Concrete and Barbed Wire” with Steve Earl. Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer Jerry Lee Lewis can still bring the crowd to their feet and dancing to "Whole Lotta' Shakin' Goin' On" and "Great Balls of Fire."
It was a magical night of mellow music and togetherness. Lets not forget the plight of the hard working American Farmer , with the best quality of food for you and your family.