Singer Willie Nelson turned the 1980s farm crisis into a national conversation. In 1985, he launched Farm Aid. What was intended as a one-time concert has turned into a high-impact nonprofit organization that has provided millions of dollars to American farmers. And the 30th annual Farm Aid concert will be held on September 19th, 2015.

Darby Minow Smith (@dumbledarb) recently chatted with Nelson about a variety of topics. She writes for Grist:


Similar to the love and mysticism we heap on Willie, we romanticize the hell out of agriculture, too. This isn’t to say they each haven’t earned their mythical reputations: Willie smoked pot on the roof of the White House and created an incredible body of music. Meanwhile, farmers are connected to nature and life and death in ways most of us can barely fathom from inside a cubicle.

But that romanticism only scratches at the surface of U.S. agriculture. In this series, I want to open a dialogue with the mid-size farmers who have largely been left out of the food conversation. If we continue to ignore them, our polarized ag economy will eventually force them to scale up — or off the land entirely.


She asked him “how a nation bounces back from something like the sorrow of the 1980s.” His answer?


“That’s a tough question,” he replied. A lot of farmers didn’t want to go back after the ugliness of the ‘80s, Willie said. But “the folks who stayed in there and toughed it out, even though they may have lost their farm, they still kept their character and their good name. They had to overcome it. A lot of them have gone back into the farming business.”


A good read.


Related Links:

Farm Aid Turns 30

Project documents work of women in agriculture