Farm Aid draws a crowd of thousands, helping farmers amidst dairy crisis

NOW: Farm Aid draws a crowd of thousands, helping farmers amidst dairy crisis

EAST TROY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Farm Aid 2019 was held at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy on Saturday. The sold-out festival was packed full with 30,000 people attending.

The lineup included big names like Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Dave Matthews, and Bonnie Raitt.

A state report found Wisconsin lost about 700 dairy farms in 2018. Jim Goodman retired earlier than the Wisconsin farmer had planned. He had to sell his dairy herd and farm.

“Terribly sad because farming is kind of a way of life and I hoped to keep farming as long as I could,” Goodman said. “114 years our farm had been a dairy farm and that’s all over.”

Farm Aid gives farmers a stage to speak to the thousands of people at the event.

“It’s hope for the farmer and it’s a way for the farmer to get his voice out that he never would have otherwise,” Goodman said.

Many farmers speaking at Farm Aid said the best way people can help them is to buy local.

“The money is going to stay in the area, which is a huge thing and I think they have a bigger connection with where their food is coming from and what their food is,” Farmer David Dolan said.

Local farmers provided food for the hungry concert-goers at Saturday’s festival and Farm Aid organizers say many people take that mindset home with them.

“People get inspired,” Farm Aid Communications Director Jennifer Fahy said. “They go to the farmers market next weekend. They might become a farm member and put money into a farm to get weekly produce.”

Thousands of people are taking in the sweet sounds of country music all to help the farmers in the fields.

“It’s rather appealing to know that there are people who aren’t farmers, who are concerned about farmers,” Goodman said.

The annual festival travels across the county and has raised $57 million for family farmers since they started the event in 1985.

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