PRNewswire via COMTEX 
Sunday, Sept 28, 2008
In response to the $700 billion Wall Street bailout currently being considered by Congress, the Farm Aid Board of Directors Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews sent an open letter to Congressional leaders urging them to redirect funds to farm communities and working men and women, where they can be better used to address our country’s economic, environment, energy and health crises.
“The proposed $700 bailout asks taxpayers to foot the bill without giving them the opportunity to share in any gains that might result,” Willie Nelson said. “On the other hand, a $1 billion investment in family farm agriculture would enrich all of us, because we are all shareholders of the family farm. The return on investment in the family farm includes thriving local economies, nutritious food for better health, a safer and more secure food supply, a cleaner environment and more renewable energy.”
Nelson and fellow Farm Aid board members Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews marked Farm Aid’s 23rd year last weekend with a New England-based benefit concert that showcased the tenacity of family farmers as an example of what it takes to solve America’s most pressing challenges.
“Family farmers are the bedrock of this country. They are always looking for new answers to problems and finding creative solutions that work,” said Nelson.
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Farm Aid led by example at its annual benefit concert by becoming the only music festival to serve family farm food to concertgoers, artists, crews and VIPs, demonstrating what is possible in efforts to bring more family farm food to more people.
To read the open letter to Congressional leaders sent by Farm Aid Board of Directors Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews, please visit www.farmaid.org/lettertocongress.
Farm Aid’s mission is to build a vibrant family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Farm Aid artists and board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews host an annual concert to raise funds to support Farm Aid’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family farm food. Since 1985, Farm Aid has raised more than $30 million to support programs that help farmers thrive, expand the reach of the Good Food Movement, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture and promote food from family farms.
SOURCE Farm Aid
As you consider the distribution of $700 billion to the very banks and corporations that have gotten our country into the mess we’re in now, we ask you to pause for a moment and consider what that money could do for the people who build our country from the ground up… for our schools, healthcare system, our states, cities and towns, alternative energy development, the homeowners who were the pawns of the banking and mortgage industry. As the Board of Directors of Farm Aid, we want to alert you to what a mere $1 billion could do in the hands of the people who grow our food.
American family farmers are the backbone of our economy, the first rung on the economic ladder. For 23 years, we’ve worked to keep family farmers on the land. But it’s not enough just to save family farmers; we have to create new farmers. When farms fail, Main Street businesses fail. The opposite is true too: When farms thrive, Main Street businesses and local communities thrive. Far from Wall Street, family farmers are creating real wealth, producing real value, growing from seeds and sunlight a product that nourishes us both physically and economically. Supporting diverse decentralized family farming will do far more for the stability and vitality of our country than a handful of global agribusiness corporations could ever do.
The proposed $700 billion bailout asks taxpayers to foot the bill without giving them the opportunity to share in any gains. A $1 billion investment in family farm agriculture would enrich us all, because we are all shareholders of the family farm. The return on investment in the family farm includes thriving local economies, nutritious food for better health, a safer and more secure food supply, a cleaner environment and more renewable energy. Investing in local, sustainable and organic food would shorten the distance between eaters and farmers, conserve energy, create economic opportunities and new jobs through innovative processing and distribution systems, resulting in a better, greener, more efficient food and farm economy.
We’ll leave the economic details to the experts, but we know from traveling the highways and back roads of this country that trickle down economic policy has not created wealth for the vast majority of Americans. Let’s start from the ground up. When we invest in our family farmers, we invest in the revitalization of our country.
Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews
Farm Aid Board of Directors