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Farm Aid 2014 Press Conference: Neil keeps it real

Farm Aid Concert Review & Photos

Farm Aid 2014
Walnut Creek
Raleigh, NC
September 13, 2014
Dave Matthews and Neil Young
Dave Matthews and Neil Young
Neil Young
Neil Young

Story & photos by Mary Andrews

The festivities at Farm Aid always begin with a press conference prior to the show to discuss the mission and new concerns. The "board," Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, and Dave Matthews are in attendance along with farmers from the local area who have a story to tell about their problems and hardships.

This is the 29th year that Farm Aid has been fundraising with this concert. No one thought there would still be a need to continue for these concerts. John Mellencamp mentioned that when they started this in 1985 everyone was young enough and naive enough to think that one concert would fix things. Twenty-nine years ago, he saw that the small family farmer was going out of business.

They did not realize the scope of the problems facing farmers. The farmers face crises every year. It's really about corporate domination and consternation. The local politicians are protecting the large corporations that exploit farmers. It is about the farmers' right to exist. Discrimination is a major issue in North Carolina. Corporate domination is what runs farmers into the ground. The poultry system is a prime example of a running corporate system.

Everyday they face the loss of their farms. Contract poultry is an example. The company owns the birds. The farmers own the equipment. Loans are taken to pay for the equipment. The loans never seem to be paid off. This causes bankruptcy.

Neil Young is usually the most passionate and the most articulate in expressing the feelings and his solutions to the problems facing farmers. Here's a rundown of Neil's comments to the farmers.

"An honor to be here. All the things we are talking about here are all about power. About corporations telling us what to do. It's very basic. Last week in Washington politicians squashed a bill, Citizens United bill. You have a senator here, Senator Byrd, he voted to turn this down. He voted to keep corporations in charge. To keep voting for that guy, is voting to continue having the same problems you already have. When you talk about lobbying dollars, that is, corporations paying people to vote for their interests. The corporations are doing all of the things that are undemocratic.

There is a road to democracy here in America. We were close to changing it by turning down this bill. Close to getting the vote through with this citizen united bill so that corporations could not vote as people. Corporations are not people. They don't have kids. They are not looking out for their grandchildren or sending their kids to college. They are looking out for profit.

This Senator, Senator Byrd, voted to continue all of the things we are talking about today. Made it impossible to change anything, that we are fighting. It can't happen without change. Fighting all the things we want to have happen. That is why we are failing to have the change we crave. When we go to these farms, we try to do something good. We must keep fighting, keep the faith and keep doing what we are doing. We try to make a difference. Remember that the soil, I know you know this, is even worse than cars in this country.

The cause of global warming is the soil. Its what's happening with our soil. Using all the chemicals, all of the things we have to use, to have the contracts, (they have these contracts). The corporations tell them (the farmers) what food they have to use, it's not just where to put the birds and what the building is like. They tell them what food to use and how much and its all crap. Food has to go somewhere after the chicken eats it and it goes back into the ground and drains into the rivers. Whenever you try to change that and you try to make it better, we come up against the lobbying in Washington and they stop it.

The reason that happens is because corporations are in control of the government and they want to make money for the next three months. It is just so basic. You have to fight back against the people who are causing this problem. And we've been doing this for the last 29 years. It seems like 29,000 years sometimes. We love Farm Aid, but we don't love that we are still doing Farm Aid. It's not a celebration. It's a mission to change what's going on. The cleaner you can farm. That is if you can find clean seeds and if you can get seeds that are not controlled by corporations like Monsanto. If you can find a way of not doing that and if you can put your hand in the ground, they need you. They can't live without you. Don't forget that they need you. They just want to squash you while you are working. They want to make it so that you have no identity and no say in what you are doing. But you love the land and you want to do this.

Try to do this as cleanly and purely as you can. Use good seeds and the least amount of fertilizer. God put the perfect fertilizer in the ground before we started doing this. This place was in balance before we started doing all of this. Things used to be right and the job is to get it back. If we can do that, we can start to reverse climate change and do all kinds of things. The corporations are the villains here. Politicians like your Senator Byrd are the ones who are voting to continue the threats you are all under every day. We've got to figure out how we are going to get around this. We are dedicated to stand with you as long as it takes and longer.

We will be here until hell freezes over. We respect you for what you are doing. Keep trying to improve things with what you are doing and make it cleaner. It cleans the land and that cleans the earth and that cleans the air. But first you must clean Washington from dirty politicians."

For more information on Farm Aid, visit

Related articles:

Farm Aid 2013
Farm Aid 2012
Farm Aid 2011
Farm Aid 2010
Farm Aid 2002

Farm Aid Concert Review & Photos

John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson
John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson
Dave Matthews and Neil Young
Dave Matthews and Neil Young

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