HERSHEY, Dauphin County—Legendary musician Willie Nelson and a variety of chart-topping music superstars rocked Hershey Saturday afternoon, bringing Farm Aid to Central Pennsylvania.
The annual concert event raises money for and awareness of family farming, including the financial and political issues small farming operations are facing.
Nelson talked about the his excitement at bringing this agriculturally focused program to the region. "On the other hand, we're very sorry that we have to be here because this problem should have been solved many years ago," said Nelson.
This is the 27th anniversary of the original Farm Aid, and some of the long-time board members say there are many challenges they don't see letting up.
"I see things getting not a lot better," said John Mellencamp, while speaking of his home in Indiana. "I see a lot of people still losing farms all the time."
Neil Young read a letter he received from a struggling dairy farmer in Iowa and called on farmers to better organize in an effort to effect political change.
"Because we are up against big bucks. We're up against 300 to 400 lobbyists for every member of Congress," said Young.
Farmers at the event described the pressures they experiencing, such as rising fuel costs, increasing competition from large-scale factory operations and the unpredictability of the future.
"There's a lot of things that we can look at differently and learn from each other. And, that's going to be the best approach, that we pull our minds together and just figure stuff out," said Homer Walden, who runs Sunnyside Farm along with his wife in Newberry Township, York County.
The sold-out concert brought about 30,000 people to Hersheypark Stadium. It's the first time the event has been in Pennsylvania in a decade.