Willie Nelson brings Farm Aid 2019 to Wisconsin’s dairy land

EAST TROY, Wis (AP) — Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews will headline Farm Aid 2019 when the music and food festival visits Wisconsin’s struggling dairy country in September.

Farm Aid said in on Tuesday’s announcement that the United States (US) farming economy this year resembles how things were when Nelson founded Farm Aid in 1985.

“With devastating weather, low prices and harmful farm and trade policies, America’s family farmers are facing immense challenges to hold on to their farms. It’s not right, family farmers are essential for all of us,” Nelson said in a statement.

Wisconsin, which bills itself as ‘America’s Dairyland’, is the No 2 milk producing state behind California, and is known particularly for its cheese.

Farm Aid spokeswoman Jennifer Fahey told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the choice of Wisconsin was partly a response to the state’s dairy crisis.

Willie Nelson performs at Farm Aid 30 at FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island in Chicago on September 19, 2015. – AP

Nearly half of the USD88 billion that Wisconsin agriculture contributes to the state economy comes from dairy farms, the newspaper said.

But since 2014, milk prices for farmers have fallen nearly 40 per cent due to overproduction and failing export markets. The state’s dairy herds are down 40 per cent from a decade earlier, and Wisconsin has led the country in farm bankruptcies for three straight years.

The state lost almost 700 dairy farms last year and more than 300 so far this year.

Farm Aid has raised USD57 million to support family farms since 1985.

Other performers in September will include Bonnie Raitt, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Margo Price, Jamey Johnson, Tanya Tucker, Brothers Osborne, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Yola, and Particle Kid.