CHICAGO (Reuter) - Some of the biggest names in pop music, from Willie Nelson to the Beach Boys, are lining up for a concert that could raise more money for struggling U.S. farmers than Live Aid did for starving Africans.
Farm Aid, a 12-hour program scheduled for Sept. 22, comes at a time of paradox on the nation's farms. Harvests are once again near record levels, but farm bankruptcies continue to be commonplace.
The concert, which will be held at Memorial Stadium of the University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill., was conceived by country-western singer Nelson, who approached Illinois Governor James Thompson about it earlier this month.
"The main point of Farm Aid is to bring the plight of the U.S. farmers to the attention of the nation," Thompson said.
The Live Aid concert from London and Philadelphia, masterminded by Irish singer Bob Geldorf [sic], raised an estimated $55-million worldwide for African famine relief.
But abundance, not famine, is the problem dogging U. S. agriculture. Depressed prices, lower land values and sagging exports continue to drive marginal farmers off the land.
Among those who have agreed to donate their talents to the concert are Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Waylon Jennings, Neil Young, Kenny Rogers, John Cougar Mellencamp, Billy Joel, Eddie Van Halen, B. B. King, Huey Lewis, Joni Mitchell and the group Alabama.
Haggard has started things off by writing a new song about trouble down on the farm:
"If the amber waves of grain should disappear
"And there were no wheat or barley anywhere
"Would we buy our bread and butter from the Toyota man?
"Would an Idaho spud be stamped 'Made in Japan'?"
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