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Monday, September 10, 2007

Willie Nelson talks Farm Aid on Newsroom

On the Sunday edition of CNN Newsroom, CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield interviewed musician Willie Nelson about Farm Aid 2007, a benefit concert to save America’s family farms. Thank you to CNN for the transcript and screencaps.


September 9, 2007 - 16:00 ET

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Familiar faith and sound he's been at it for decades and shows no signs of letting up. Singer Willie Nelson is fighting for the little guy, trying to save America's family farms and he's at it again this year with Farm Aid 2007. The benefit concert is shaping up to be as informal and star packed as ever. But the venue is not America's heartland this year. Big time, it's the big apple.Earlier I had a chance to talk with Willie Nelson. Despite all his hard work he says family farms are still being squeezed financially. That's why he is still at it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIE NELSON: We've been doing Farm Aid many years, and our hope was we would only have to do one and then the powers that be, so to speak, would pass a good farm bill where a farmer could take 200 acres and make a living like they used to. That hasn't happened, and that's why we're still having Farm Aids these 20-something years later. It's not a good sign when we have to do this.The government is supposed to come in and take care of our small family farmers, our small businessmen. I've always felt that agriculture was the bottom rung on our economic ladder. When it falls in, everything falls in on top of it. That's where we are. And that's how important I think it is to help the farmers and now, people in New York, are the best way I know of, to get the word out about how to find good food. Find a good farmer. And you've got good food. The folks here, the mayor and governor, have been very nice, making us welcome. So it's been great day.

WHITFIELD: How receptive is the New York audience as a whole outside of the government leaders? Because, you know, it's I guess pretty natural a lot of folks, even in this country as a whole, don't have an idea of how hard it is for the small family farm to keep going.

NELSON: Well, yeah. And it's mainly because the big corporate farms are getting all the subsidies; they are getting all the money. The little guy is not getting. I think it's a crime for anyone over $200,000 to get any kind of government farm subsidy. If you make more than that, you don't need it. Let the money go to the little guy.

WHITFIELD: John Mellencamp, Neil Young have been with you from the very start. How do you go about trying to recruit some of the performing artists now to make sure that the masses still have a clear understanding of what Farm Aid is all about?

NELSON: Well, of course, the artists, the guys who run up and down the highways out here, are the best people to ask about what's going on in the farm land, and they -- the first ones to tell you when it got bad and guys like John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Dave Mathews, these guys came on board because they now how bad it is out there.

WHITFIELD: What's your greatest worry right now or greatest concern that you feel is not being addressed as it pertains to the small family farm, besides, you know, the subsidies, government subsidies being made available to the more corporate farmers?

NELSON: Absolutely, the small family farmer is getting the shaft and the big corporate farmers are getting most all the money, and it should be the other way around. Hopefully some of our elected officials on both sides will realize how important it is to keep the family farmer and to keep good organic food available for all of us.

WHITFIELD: If not for you and Farm Aid, then who or what entity would be available out there to really be the advocate for the farmer to fight for the farmer when it comes down to legislation, like you've been describing?

NELSON: Well, it is a local situation and it can be solved locally. Wherever you live, check with the farmers in your area and by helping him, he can help you and you've solved a lot of problems. First of all, you've saved transportation bringing your food in from across east China or somewhere when the tomatoes could be grown for you out here by your own farmers that you know and your kids go to school with. I think that's where it should begin.

WHITFIELD: Willie Nelson thanks so much for your time and all the best on your continued efforts with Farm Aid and reaching out to all of America in agriculture.

NELSON: Thank you very much.(END VIDEO CLIP)


We at All Things CNN would like to wish Barbara Starr a very Happy Birthday on Tuesday, September 11, 2007.

1 comment:

Sapphire said...

Cool Interview with Fred and Willie Nelson. I really like Fredricka Whitfield

Happy Birthday Barbara Starr!!!!!!!!