2012-09-27 / Local & State

Willie Nelson, Other Stars Bring Farm Aid To Pa.

HERSHEY, Pa. (AP) – Willie Nelson is in central Pennsylvania for Saturday’s annual Farm Aid concert – but he says he wishes that he didn't have to be doing the events.

Farm Aid exists because government agricultural policies too often tilt toward large corporate- owned farms rather than small farmers, the veteran country singer said.

“I’m very sorry that we have to be here because this problem should have been solved many years ago,” he told The (Harrisburg) Patriot News. “I wish the government would take better care of our natural resources, and that includes the family farmer.”

Nelson was set to headline the nine-hour concert in Hershey along with performers including Neil Young, Kenny Chesney, Dave Matthews and John Mellencamp.

He told MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry on Saturday that the farmers' decades-old problems have been exacerbated lately by a severe drought.

“We need them to get help because they're the guys who grow our food and our fuel for us, so we need to keep those guys working out there,” he said.

Nelson also told the program that this year's event will emphasize a need to get more young farmers back on the land, and he also hopes to encourage more people to use products from farms closer to their homes.

“When you look at your breakfast table this morning, most of the stuff you're eating came from 1,500 miles away. That doesn't have to be the case,” he said. “There are farmers right around you that can grow. Farm-to-markets are a great way to help yourself, help the food supply, help the economy and help feed your family healthy food.”

Farm Aid has been held nearly every year since 1985 and has raised more than $40 million to help keep family farmers on their land.

Pennsylvania ranks third nationally in direct farmerto consumer sales, according to Farm Aid, and sixth with some 600 organic farms. Agriculture is the state's leading industry, and southcentral Pennsylvania, where Hershey is located, includes vast areas of highly fertile farmland. The last time the concert was held in Pennsylvania was 2002, in Burgettstown, outside of Pittsburgh.

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