Farm Aid announced on Monday that its annual benefit concert will be held on Sept. 22 at Hersheypark Stadium.
"We've built a strong family farm movement to grow our economy, ensure our health and protect our environment. Farm Aid brings these Main Street values to transform the Wall Street-controlled farm and food system," Farm Aid President Willie Nelson said in a written statement. "The Farm Aid concert is our chance to shine a spotlight on the independent family farmers who are essential to the well-being of our country."
John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews — with Tim Reynolds, Jack Johnson, ALO, Pegi Young & The Survivors, and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real.
Jennifer Fahy, communications director for Farm Aid, said in a telephone interview that the concert changes location so farmers in different areas can attend. It is the first time that it is being held in central Pennsylvania.
"It also gives us a chance to shine the sportlight on farms in that region and to bring attention to the need for people to be able to access locally produced foods," she said.
The concert doesn't directly benefit farmers. Because of the number of farms in the nation, the money instead goes to nonprofit organizations that are addressing the challenges that family farmers face, Fahy said.
Farmers do need help.
"Times are still tough for farmers," Harold Shaulis, a Somerset farmer, said. "It varies depending on how much of a mortgage you have. Those who own everything are OK, but those who have mortgages can be having trouble. Most people are just hanging on and paying bills later."
Farmers are facing unusual problems this year with hot temperatures. Another problem is insects weren't killed off because of the mild winter. Alfalfa in particular has had heavy damage.
"In 37 years I've never sprayed for insects, but I did this year," Shaulis said.
Miguel Saviroff, educator with Penn State Extension, said Somerset County is lucky that it isn't having a severe drought like states in the corn belt are having. There's an estimated 35 percent decrease in production in those states so far this year.
"There is a lot more insect activity, but the fungus activity is not bad this year," Saviroff said. "Fungus was bad two years ago."
Dairy farmers are also having problems because milk production is up so prices are down. Shaulis said the dairy farmers need for Congress to pass the farm bill to help stabilization production and pricing. There is also a provision that would allow farmers to buy "margin insurance" to pay the different between production costs and the sale price.
The Senate proposal has passed. The House Agriculture Committee has released its farm bill proposal, which is still pending. The two chambers will try to reach a compromise before Sept. 30, when the current farm bill expires.
There is also an issue that Pennsylvania's legislature needs to address, Saviroff said. About 54 percent of Pennsylvania farmers are age 55 or older. While the legislature has passed a law that allows the transfer of working farms to descendants without the previous 4.5 percent inheritance tax, more needs to be done to help transition farms to younger people.
Saviroff believes the concert can help remind people to buy local.
"If you hear the music, and dance, and get the message, it's a good thing," he said. "Buy local. The bottom line is it tastes better. It often costs less, too."
Tickets for Farm Aid 2012 will go on sale at 10 a.m. July 13 and will be available at www.livenation.com, www.ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster outlets, GIANT Center Box Office, or by phone at 800-745-3000.