Farm Aid 25th Anniversary on WILL

Farm Aid stage and crowd

On September 22, 1985, the first Farm Aid concert took place at Memorial Stadium on the University of Illinois campus. It featured more than 40 acts, among them organizers Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young. The benefit concert raised more than $9 million to help the nation%u2019s struggling farmers, and it raised awareness about the plight of the American farmer.
 
Illinois Public Media%u2019s Sean Powers talked with concert organizers, including Willie Nelson; people who attended; and small family farmers to look back at the concert and gauge its impact.

WILL Farm Aid News Feature #1

Neil Young performing at Farm AidTwenty five years ago this week, the Champaign area was all about Farm Aid. The 12-hour event in Champaign, Illinois featured more than 40 acts, including organizers Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Neil Young. It drew in more than $9 million dollars to help the nation%u2019s struggling farmers. But beyond raising money, Illinois Public Media%u2019s Sean Powers reports that the concert helped shed light on the challenges facing farmers in the 1980s.

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WILL Farm Aid News Feature #2

Farm Aid ticket stubThis week marks the anniversary of one of the largest efforts to raise money for the nation%u2019s farmers, who in 1985 were battling lower land values and higher interest rates. Illinois Public Media%u2019s Sean Powers continues our series on Farm Aid with a look at how this benefit concert has helped small family farms in the last 25 years.

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WILL's "Growing Aware" Preview of Farm Aid from 1985

In a two-hour WILL broadcast that aired on September 21, 1985, WILL reporters preview the first Farm Aid concert scheduled to begin the following day in Champaign.

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WILL-AM Farm Aid Special from 1986

A year after the first Farm Aid concert, WILL reporters look back at the show%u2019s impact on the nation%u2019s farmers in this July 4, 1986 broadcast.

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Extended interview with Farm Aid founder Willie Nelson

David Allan Coe, BB King, and Willie NelsonCountry artist Willie Nelson helped start Farm Aid in 1985 with fellow musicians Neil Young and John Mellencamp. Nelson said Farm Aid was much more than just about raising money. He said the benefit concert helped shed light on the plight of the American farmer.

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Interview with Lindsay Record, Executive Director Illinois Stewardship Alliance

Lindsay Record is the executive director of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance. Her organization has received Farm Aid dollars to help educate lawmakers and stakeholders both on the state and federal level about agricultural issues.

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David Schroeder reads from a list of things he appreciates about farming

The Schroeder family on their farm in Coal Valley in 1985David Schroeder nearly lost his farm in the 1980s because of a series of droughts and in his inability to get a loan from a bank. The farm%u2019s been in his family for more than 70 years. Just as things were at their worst, Schroeder made a list of things he appreciates about farming. He reads from the list.

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Adam Schroeder talks about why he loves being a farmer

Adam Schroeder is the only son of David and Anita Schroeder's nine children to stay on the farm. He is 30-years-old, the same age his father was when he took over the farmer more than 35 years ago. Schroeder said he plans to keep the farm going long after his parents stop working.

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Images from Farm Aid

David and Anita Schroeder talk about what it takes to run a farm

Essay by Anita Schroeder

In 1985 at the height of the farm crisis, the Schroeders were featured in Time Magazine and the evening news. Anita Schroeder tells the story in this essay.

Download Anita Schroeder's essay