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Farm Aid Responds To Midwest Flooding; Activates Family Farm Disaster Fund
06.23.2008 - Willie Nelson to Deliver Initial Relief Funds Saturday to Iowa Grassroots Coalition

SOMERVILLE, Mass. — As flooding continues to ravage agricultural and rural towns on the banks of the Mississippi River and other rivers, Farm Aid is activating its Family Farm Disaster Fund to get immediate relief to family farmers in Iowa, Wisconsin and across the Midwest. Farm Aid President and Founder Willie Nelson will distribute the first grant from the Family Farm Disaster Fund on Saturday, June 21, to the Iowa Grassroots Coalition, a group of farm and faith-based organizations in Iowa working on the recovery effort.

“Our hearts go out to the folks all along the Mississippi who are being affected by the severe floods that have taken out towns and farms in Iowa and Wisconsin,” said Farm Aid President Willie Nelson. “At Farm Aid, we have had friends in these communities for 23 years who can deliver immediate support to family farmers, getting them back on the land, growing good food for all of us.”

Reports indicate that at least four million acres of farmland are underwater and that a high percentage will not be replanted this growing season. Many family farms in the region growing specialty crops and produce are not adequately covered by federal crop insurance and may not have the financial support necessary to rebuild.

Farm Aid emergency assistance is supporting local recovery efforts in Iowa and Wisconsin, delivering an initial $10,000 in disaster-relief funds to grassroots organizations. Since the Family Farm Disaster Fund was activated on Wednesday of this week, more than $40,000 has already been donated by individuals and organizations, including Best Buy and WhiteWave, makers of Horizon Organic and Silk Soymilk. As money is raised, Farm Aid’s focus is to quickly distribute money to affected areas, where it can best benefit farm families.

“In the face of the devastation caused by the flooding across the Midwest, Farm Aid is proud to work with the individuals and organizations that have already stepped up and shown their support for family farmers. Together, we will help these farmers rebuild and protect our source of good food,” said Farm Aid Executive Director Carolyn Mugar.

Farm Aid is supporting the disaster-relief efforts of the Iowa Grassroots Coalition, which includes Buy Fresh Buy Local Iowa, Center for Rural Affairs, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Iowa Farmers Union, Iowa Network for Community Agriculture, Iowa Organic Association, National Catholic Rural Life Conference, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Women Food and Agriculture Network, farmer and advocate Denise O’Brien, and Wendy Wasserman, editor of Edible Iowa River Valley. As more information is available about the impact of the flooding in states across the Midwest, Farm Aid will work with additional organizations to quickly get resources to family farmers in those states.

“Family farmers across Iowa have been sharing their personal stories about the impact this monumental flooding has had on their farm operations,” said Coalition spokesperson Denise O'Brien, an Atlantic, IA farmer. “We want to get assistance to these farmers as quickly as possible, and we thank our long-time friends at Farm Aid for giving us their support.”

Contributions can be made to Farm Aid’s Family Farm Disaster Fund online at www.farmaid.org.

Farm Aid’s mission is to build a vibrant family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Farm Aid artists and board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews host an annual concert to raise funds to support Farm Aid’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family-farmed food. Since 1985, Farm Aid has raised more than $30 million to support programs that help farmers thrive, expand the reach of the Good Food Movement, take action to change the current system of industrial agriculture and promote food from family farms.

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