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News Flash
Thu., Sep 2, 1999
Direct bookmark: http://HyperRust.org/News/?f-FarmAidConf
(updated )
Also see: Farm Aid concert details

Farm Aid Teleconference
by Lisa By The Fire Barrett

Got pretty close to talking to the Neilster today -- but even though I didn't, I did get to listen to him... I was in on a Farm Aid preview teleconference set up for media.

They had divided the conference into 15 minute segments with various Farm Aid performers and organizers. You were allowed to ask a question related to Farm Aid or farming in general. Neil and Willy were first up.

Neil said that Farm Aid's political agenda is to drive an ammendment of the US Congress' "Freedom to Farm Bill" passed in 1996. It took the power out of the hands of the farmers themselves, giving them no price control. Hence prices are low, driven down through Agri-Business. Farmers aren't the ones making a profit from the products. The result is that the Bill is putting them out of business.

Neil said farmers are planning on going to the Capitol on the Monday following the Farm Aid concert, to raise their concerns about the bill. That's why the concert is being held at the the Nissan Pavillion, close to DC. He asked that people talk to their congressmen, contribute to Farm Aid, and buy organic.

Neil also said reporters need to do some investigative type reporting on what's going on with the Farmers. That they should stop merely touching on the issues, they should report what's really going on. He said he wasn't impressed with the media.

Then he said he had to get going because he was in the studio!!

Willy took over and said that the Farm Aid organizers are in for the duration and will do whatever it takes -- but that they are sick of the need for Farm Aid. It shouldn't be such a needed organization. They are the only ones out there who are there to listen to the farmers. The farmers have no one to turn to.

I stayed on the line and listened to the other performers:

  • Steve Earle, who said his grandfather and family owned a peach farm in Texas. Now it's a Christmas tree farm run by his uncle.
  • Susan Tedeschi, whose family lost their dairy farm.
  • Tyler from Barenaked Ladies, Deana Carter , and Trisha Yearwood (all on at the same time).
  • John Mellencamp at the end.
Someone asked Mellencamp about choosing a setlist for a Farm Aid concert. He said that, although Neil feels differently (and they have talked about it), he himself feels that a concert is not the place to challenge the audience. "It's not my job to preach or wave my fist." He said he feels people come to the concert to be entertained and he wants them to leave with a smile on their face. He said an album would be more suited to challenge an audience musically.

Mellencamp also got into a little rant about how MTV is for 13-year-olds, and that they don't play anyone whose been in the business long.

There was also talk about how it would be cool to sell videos of past Farm Aid concerts.

Well, nothing earth-shattering, but I thought the teleconference was cool and thought I would share it with my rusted friends.

    By the Fire

Also see:
A Launch story on the teleconference.
A Spin summary of the teleconference.
A Wall of Sound story built around the comments at the conference.
A Jam Music report of Willie's comments.





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