Indianapolis Star: John Rocks The World Of Family Farmers

My view: Carolyn Mugar

John Mellencamp's musical talents have endeared him to generations of Americans, especially to those from his home state of Indiana. Tonight, he will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an occasion that provides an opportunity to recognize his countless contributions to the fabric of the American experience.

John Mellencamp's impact extends far beyond music. Leader, advocate, humanitarian and iconoclast: This is John Mellencamp. As a founding board member of Farm Aid, John cares deeply for the people from the small towns and farms that make our country great and strong. He has become one of the most outspoken advocates working to save family farms and farmers -- an effort that many believe to be just as deserving of the highest honors and awards as his musical career. His rebellious and dogged spirit has served him, and us, well.

Through his music, beginning with his 1985 album "Scarecrow'' and as recently as his 2006 single, " Our Country,'' John has brought much-needed attention to the dire circumstances facing small-town America and the challenges that many family farmers must overcome. He has shown music fans, politicians and the world that small communities are the backbone of this country.

John has often cited the critical role of personal responsibility in creating change. He frequently reminds us, "If you want a better world, it starts with you." From walking the halls of Capitol Hill, talking with members of Congress about the state of family farming in America, to performing from the back of a flatbed truck to stand with protesting farmers in Missouri, John has amplified the voice of the family farmer. Along with Farm Aid President Willie Nelson, co-founder and fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Neil Young, and board member Dave Matthews, John has played on the Farm Aid stage each year to focus the country on the essential role family farmers play in securing a future of fresh, healthy food for all Americans.

Through John's work, there are now millions who are concerned about the source and quality of their food, and there is growing demand for what family farmers alone can produce. But we need more farmers in a vibrant family farm-center system of agriculture, which means John's and Farm Aid's work to support family farmers and grow the Good Food Movement is far from over.

Tonight, when Billy Joel, who performed at the first Farm Aid concert more than 20 years ago, welcomes John Mellencamp to the halls of musical greatness, let's celebrate all of his achievements. Farm Aid congratulates him on this historic event and for being a model for how one person can improve millions of lives through hard work and social responsibility. Thanks to him, not only does our country sound better, it is better.

Mugar is the executive director of Farm Aid.

Read the Indianapolis Star article online.