Perspective: Farm Aid is no friend to farmers


Farm Aid is a concert put on by the likes of John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, Willie Nelson, Luke Combs, Bonnie Rait, and Neil Young (remember his Album “The Monsanto years?”). They talk a big game about valuing farmers and creating the best food in America. Yet, while their intentions may come off as good …

I’m sorry, but they are no friend to they vast majority of America’s farmers. It seems as though they only care about promoting organic production. Maybe with our help though, they can change their stances on issues that are not as bad as they lead the public to believe.

Farm Aid acts like it cares about farmers, but in reality, the lobbying and misinformation it spreads about our industry does way more harm than good. Take a look at this info about GMOs:

This is just one splice of their website supported by the $100 billion “organic and non-GMO” food labels, but if you continue to read on, they share all of the popular myths: seed saving, corporate control, and so on. The reality is that farmers have many choices when it comes to what we plant. If we don’t like a certain corporation such as Monsanto/Bayer, we don’t have to do business with them. Simple as that.

The reality is that GMOs have done amazing things for farmers and the environment. The technology has led to lower usage of many types of pesticides while still saving crops from disease, increased opportunities for biodiversity by requiring less land for production, allowed farmers to use less tillage, which is better for soil health and reduced erosion — the list goes on. The technology is proven safe and effective by pretty much every major food safety authority in the world.

So it’s sad to see them perpetuate this misinformation while claiming to care about farmers. I would really like to talk to farmers they’ve helped … how many and where are they? How much of the profits that are made off of the annual concert actually go to farmers?

I am attending the concert this year; it’s close to me, I got a free ticket, and I’d like an opportunity to speak to these people face to face and explain to them that all farmers are people and all farmers care, not just the small or organic ones. Let’s politely bridge the divide, shall we?

It’s a disservice when Farm Aid spreads an unbelievable amount of misinformation on “factory farming,” “industrial,” “big Ag” — all the buzzwords.

Can small organic farmers do a great job? Absolutely! So can large non organic farms.

Do organic farmers care about soil health? Absolutely! So do GMO and other conventional farmers. It’s not one or the other; any farm can do a good job.

The system for farmers is far from perfect, and yes, there are real issues that farmers struggle with. But to treat larger family farms or GMOs with disrespect is not the way to go. It takes all kinds of farmers to feed and clothe us all.

With sponsors that include Chipotle, Organic Valley, Whole Foods, and Patagonia, it’s no wonder that the concert’s philosophy skews the way it does. These food corporations are no friend to America’s farmers and spread a ton of disgusting misinformation about agriculture. More on that here.

These myths and “us vs them” mentality needs to stop. And I’m looking forward to having polite conversations with them while explaining that 98 percent of farms in the U.S. are family farms. If more people took the time to connect with farms of all shapes and sizes, there would be a lot less disconnect and more trust in food today.

I would love to see more balance in terms of sponsorships and voices from all facets of agriculture. To get involved or to sponsor and spread the real truth of “big ag” which yes, includes real family farms, you can contact Glenda Yoder, Farm Aid’s associate director, at 617-354-2922 or for further information.

We’re all in this together.


Michelle Miller, the Farm Babe, is an Iowa-based farmer, public speaker, and writer, who lives and works with her boyfriend on their farm, which consists of row crops, beef cattle, and sheep. She believes education is key in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers.

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