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Farm Aid 2012 Saturday In Pennsylvania

Willie Nelson, president and co-founder of Farm Aid, is proud of the group’s commitment to protecting farmland.

With more than $40 million raised through concerts and private contributions since the first Farm Aid concert in 1985, the money works to keep family farmers on their land by awarding cash grants to groups that help small- and medium-size farms across the U.S.A.

Farm Aid awarded nearly $308,000 to 42 organizations last year.

The Farm Aid website also is a resource for farmers, providing information on a range of topics: how to get into farming, sources of credit for farmers, farm-fresh food as an alternative to food produced by large-scale, corporate agri-operations.

“I grew up working on farms and I know their problems firsthand,” said Nelson. “I don’t think it’s that big of a stretch for a guy who is a farmer, was a farmer, (to) help if he can. That’s what we’re supposed to do.”

Saturday’s nine-hour concert at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Pennsylvania, is designed to reinforce the Farm Aid message.

Scheduled performers include Willie and fellow Farm Aid board members Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews, as well as other acts.

Agriculture is the state’s leading industry. Pennsylvania ranks third nationally in direct farmer-to-consumer sales and sixth in the number of organic farms with nearly 600.

91 percent of the state’s farms are owned by individual families and 7.5 percent are family partnerships or family corporations.

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