Sept. 18 Farm Aid to benefit Illinois farmers

SOMERVILLE, Mass.—Farm Aid announced it will activate its Family Farm Disaster Fund in support of Illinois family farmers hardest hit by this summer’s drought. Farm Aid will channel emergency assistance to distressed areas, pledging an immediate $10,000 in relief funds.

“Every family farm helps secure the future of America’s food supply,” said Farm Aid Executive Director Carolyn Mugar. “We cannot allow this drought to cause the loss of a single family farm. We are activating our Family Farm Disaster Fund to welcome donations so that farm families get help in a timely manner.”

Individuals can contribute to Farm Aid’s disaster fund online at In addition to funds raised by people in Illinois and across the country, Farm Aid has earmarked an initial $10,000 to the Illinois Stewardship Alliance to meet emergency needs of farmers statewide. The funds are available to drought-stricken farm families to help cover immediate family expenses while farmers work on getting access to other farm programs that deal with crop failure and loss of income.

In addition, Farm Aid is working with other Illinois farm organizations to provide financial and emotional counseling to affected farmers.

“Farm Aid calls on Congress to act quickly and with adequate resources so that this drought does not have permanent repercussions for farm families,” Mugar said. “In the mean time, Farm Aid will rally public support to help drought-stricken farmers make it through this disaster as intact as possible.”

“In drought conditions such as these, Illinois family farmers get squeezed on income,” said Mark Beorkrem, executive director of Illinois Stewardship Alliance. “Their farm and home operating expenses go up as utility bills soar, home gardens fail, machinery breaks down and plant yields are harmed. This affects farmers’ ability to cover their normal monthly expenses.”

Farm Aid will hold its 20th Anniversary concert on Sept. 18 in Tinley Park, just south of Chicago. Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp held the first Farm Aid concert in 1985 in Champaign to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on their land.

Dave Matthews joined the Farm Aid Board of Directors in 2001. Farm Aid has raised more than $27 million to promote a strong and resilient family farm system of agriculture. Through public education and direct grants, Farm Aid supports national, regional and local efforts to build and strengthen family farm food production.

From the Sept. 14-20, 2005, issue

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