Farm Aid offers immediate assistance for farmers devastated by hurricane Katrina
Activates Family Farm Disaster Fund to Provide Emergency Relief
Somerville, MA — Farm Aid will channel emergency assistance to farm families devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Farm Aid today activated the Family Farm Disaster Fund to encourage donations so that farm families can get the help they need to recover from the hurricane and continue farming.
“This is a moment when each of us can take stock of what we can offer to everyone affected by this catastrophe, and Farm Aid is in a position to act for farm families,” said Farm Aid President Willie Nelson. “Crop and livestock losses will be massive. Many farm buildings were destroyed in the storm and ensuing flooding. A disaster of this magnitude can be a breaking point for many Southern family farms.”
Individuals can contribute to Farm Aid’s disaster fund on-line at www.farmaid.org or by calling 1.800.FARM-AID. In addition to funds raised by people across the country, Farm Aid has sent an initial $30,000 to several of its partner family farm organizations in the southeast. The funds will allow the Federation of Southern Cooperatives and the Louisiana Interchurch Conference to immediately begin assessing needs in these states and providing emergency relief. The Farmers Legal Action Group will also step in with information they have developed on how farmers can access federal disaster programs.
For twenty years, Farm Aid has responded to many weather-related disasters that have pushed family farmers to the brink of ruin. Already, there is an outpouring of desire among farmers and farm groups to help other farm families affected by Katrina. “Fortunately, we can convene our farm group partners across the country to develop additional longer-term actions that Farm Aid and its donors can support,” added Farm Aid Executive Director Carolyn Mugar.
While the full extent of the damage to family farms is still unknown, Farm Aid representatives have been told that the infrastructure of many rural southeastern communities has been devastated and will take months to repair. That means many farm families are facing an extended period without phone service, electricity, clean water or modes of transportation. In addition, major crop losses are anticipated as many crops were just a week or two from being harvested when the hurricane hit. Without transport or feed for farm animals, livestock and poultry farmers face serious challenges to keep their animals alive over the coming days and weeks.
Farm Aid will hold its 20th Anniversary concert on September 18 in Tinley Park, IL, just south of Chicago. Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp held the first Farm Aid concert in 1985 in Champaign, IL to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on their land. Dave Matthews joined the Farm Aid Board of Directors in 2001. Farm Aid has raised more than $27 million to promote a strong and resilient family farm system of agriculture. Through public education and direct grants, Farm Aid supports national, regional and local efforts to build and strengthen family farm food production.
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