2Climate Justice Proclamations And 14 More Inspiring Things Heard At Farm Aid 202


Willie Nelson’s greeting ahead of Saturday’s (Sept. 24) annual Farm Aid benefit concert for family farmers in Raleigh, N.C., reaffirmed the organization’s nearly four-decade commitment to the men and women who feed the nation.


This year, Farm Aid focused on the challenges that farmers face as a result of the climate crisis, a challenge that is intertwined with the country’s history of racial injustice.

“Right now, our struggle is beyond us.” It slashes deeply. “It’s the very planet we’re standing on that’s in jeopardy, and we’ve got to figure it out,” said Savonola “Savi” Horne, executive director of the Land Loss Prevention Project, which advocates for Black farmers in North Carolina, at a Farm Aid supporters gathering the night before the concert.


“And even as we figure that out, we have to find justice for our lifetime’s legacy issues — racial inequality, environmental justice,” Horne said. “We can’t just gloss it over and say, okay, let’s all save the planet.” We need to figure out how to mend the brokenness that exists within all of us. Because we are all a part of this.”

Since the first Farm Aid concert in 1985, the organisation has raised over $64 million to support a vibrant, family farm-centered agricultural system in the United States.


Wait… make that $65 million.

Jim Irsay, owner of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts — and frontman of a band that jammed with John Mellencamp at the Colts Kickoff Concert earlier this month — joined Mellencamp onstage late Saturday evening to present a $1 million check to Farm Aid.

Here are 14 more inspiring things we saw and heard at Farm Aid 2022 from the Coastal Credit Union Music Park in Walnut Creek.

‘A Significant Farmer Mobilization in Washington’

Due to the pandemic, this was the first time Farm Aid began with a press conference to highlight farmer concerns since 2019 — and it was the first time the press conference was live-streamed. According to Farm Aid cultural impact director Michael Stewart Foley, the livestream announced that Farm Aid, in collaboration with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and 35 other activist groups, planned “a major farmer mobilisation in Washington” in March 2023. “Congress needs to hear from farmers that they rely on a Farm Bill that delivers climate solutions — climate solutions that prioritise what works for family farmers, address on-farm climate challenges, and centre racial justice,” Foley said.

Food Production and Rising Stars

Every year, Farm Aid honours performers on the verge of stardom, and this year’s honorees were Nashville’s Britteny Spencer and Texas-bred Charley Crockett. Spencer explained, “My grandmother’s family is from Raleigh.” “However, I believe we’re all friends and family here now.” Spencer sang with sweetness and honesty in the heartfelt “Sober & Skinny,” a highlight of her set, in a style that veered from country to mainstream pop. Crockett’s career has been on the verge of exploding. After six years of recording, he received the Americana Music Association’s 2021 Emerging Artist of the Year Award. His sound soared over the amphitheatre, with soulful, twanging vocals backed by pedal steel and trumpet.

Music Activism’s Legacy

Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson and the Rev. Allyn Maxfield-Steele, co-executive directors of the Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, Tenn., were among those who travelled to Saturday’s concert. They were representing one of the most important activist organisations in American history, one that was founded on music. Founded in 1932 as the Highlander Folk School, where Pete Seeger came to sing and mobilise, the centre now works with Appalachians and Southerners to fight for justice, equality, and sustainability through grassroots organising and movement building. Carolyn Mugar, the executive director of Farm Aid since its inception in 1985, embraced Woodward-Henderson and Maxfield-Steele, two of the activists who trained at Highlander.

‘A Beloved Neighborhood’

“I am a black, queer, new immigrant,” Allison Russell of Canada said, returning to the Farm Aid stage for the second time after performing in Hartford last September. “Being welcomed into this community has changed my life.” This is a beloved community, and we are improving the world.” Russell’s set culminated with only the second live performance of “Georgia Rise,” which she performed Monday (Sept. 19) to support Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. She was joined by Farm Aid board member Margo Price, co-headliner Sheryl Crow, and Britteny Spencer.

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