Today: Does The Pitch Still Ask Tough Questions? Not Where Farm Aid’s Concerned

One has to wonder after reading a story in the current Pitch under the headline, "Does Farm Aid Still Matter?"

After breezing through the David Martin puff piece I still can’t find the answer to the local alt rag’s question.It must be yes though, since nowhere does Martin come close to dropping the hammer on the "charity" concert schmooze.

Not a single tough question was asked. Not how much money is raised, how much goes to actual charity, etc.

Nope, just a brief history of the event which can largely be found on Wikipedia. And that "a representitive from the Farm Aid…recently went to the White House" and "The Missouri Rural Crisis Center continues to receive grants."

Pretty thin. So allow me to do Martin’s work for him.

As in taking a gander at Farm Aid’s most recent available-to-the-public tax filing. Martin reports the first Farm Aid "raised more than $9 million."

Impressive, especially in 1985 dollars

Had Martin bothered to check though, he’d have learned that the gross income for the 2009 Farm Aid had plummeted to $1,229,577 – in 2009 dollars – bringing only $333,330 to the bottom line.

Which was distributed to around 20 organizations, including the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, which got $15,000.

So does Farm Aid still matter? Yes and no. But clearly it doesn’t come close to mattering like it once did.

A fact that went unreported in the Pitch, even after it posed the question.

Now let’s take it a step further and ask if Farm Aid still matters from an artistic standpoint?

Having looked over the numbers, I think you can guess the answer. Not really.

It’s a middling, annual festival hanging onto the coatails of it’s four lead amigos – Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews – 26 years after the fact.

In addition to the above artists, Farm Aid 2011 in KCK includes Jason Mrza, Jamey Johnson, Jakob Dylan, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Robert Francis, Will Daily & the Rivals, Rebecca Pidgeon and Billy Joe Shaver.

Hardly a stellar lineup…

Now take a look at the Farm Aid One’s lineup:

Alabama, Hoyt Axton, The Beach Boys, The Blasters, Bon Jovi, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, David Allan Coe, John Conlee, Charlie Daniels Band, John Denver, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, Foreigner, Vince Gill, Arlo Guthrie, Sammy Hagar, Merle Haggard, Daryl Hall, Emmylou Harris, Don Henley, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joel, Randy Newman, George Jones, Rickie Lee Jones, B. B. King, Carole King, Kris Kristofferson, Huey Lewis, Loretta Lynn, John Mellencamp, Roger Miller, Joni Mitchell, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Charley Pride, Bonnie Raitt, Lou Reed, Kenny Rogers, Brian Setzer, Sissy Spacek, Tanya Tucker, Eddie Van Halen, Debra Winger, Neil Young, Dave Milsap, Joe Ely, Judy Rodman, X

So, I pose this question to Martin and the Pitch, only because I’m still curious:

Does Farm Aid Still Matter?
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26 Responses to Today: Does The Pitch Still Ask Tough Questions? Not Where Farm Aid’s Concerned

  1. Johnny S says:

    reporting on reporter’s reports?
    Well mister, why dont YOU call them up and get an interview?… What are you waiting for. I know it is easier to report… on another report……. but if you wanna do some good…GET YOU OWN INTERVIEW…. I WANT TO KNOW THE ANSWERS TO THE HARD QUESTIONS


    damn it…Soria blow the save …

  2. chuck says:

    Debra Winger????
    I would love to see her in concert again.


  3. Hearne Christopher says:

    Dude, my question was, uh, rhetorical. Sorry if I nuanced it too strongly.

    Obviously, they opted to execute a BJ for an advertiser or potential one, rather than make the slightest effort at giving then fest even a slightly critical look.

    Hey, the paper is under new owners. It’s also losing money. Chances are there’ll be far more attaboys – a la Ink – and far fewer eye pokes – a la the Pitch of old.

  4. Hearne Christopher says:

    I’m with you on that one. Pretty sure it was a – how would you describe it? – artist cameo

  5. chuck says:

    I am guessing she just made Urban Cowboy
    and still had a rustic patina of farm-boy authenticity.

  6. chuck says:

    Guess it makes sense.
    Nice Jewish Girl becomes a cowboy after reading the “King of Sting”.

    If you can imagine it…

    I just saw “Limitless”. Cool movie. I kept thinking as cool as it was, if they ever make “King of Sting” into a movie, the screen writers have to ahve Glaze poppin those pills.

    Fuckin awesome. 🙂

  7. chuck says:

    Here is something that actually IS pretty interesting

    Google Farm Aid Fraud and you get this site that says Farm Aid money goes to people who file suits against family farmers to promote a vegan lifestyle. WOW! Check this…

    ” top it off, Country Music Television (CMT) recently ran a Farm Aid documentary. Listed in the credits was none other than “Voice for Animals,” an animal rights group whose main goal is animal liberation.

    The more research I do on this subject, the worse it gets. We in agriculture have allowed the opposition to define a “factory farm” in comparison to their idealistic “family farm.”

    Factory farms” do not exist. We spend countless hours trying to educate the public about what really happens in food production. Meanwhile, the opposition has stolen our best marketing tool by designing their own image of a “family farm” and using it against us. They are convincing the American public that we need to roll back the clock on food production, let our pigs roll in the dirt and leave our combines in the shed.

    What they don’t seem to realize is that fewer farmers are feeding millions more people today than we did in 1920 and it is predicted that we will have even more mouths to feed in the very near future. How is foregoing technology going to help us achieve an end to world hunger?

    If farmers need to return to the “American Gothic” way of life, then shouldn’t everyone else get to join us? Throw out your computers, color televisions, DVDs and cell phones.

    Willie, you should forget about selling CDs that rack in millions of dollars for your Valentine Road Corporation. You need to be selling LPs again like you did in the “good old days.” And for the record Mr. Nelson, I have always liked your songs.

    Cliffy and Orphan should probably explain this stuff.

    It was an interestin article anyway.

  8. chuck says:

    To be fair, this article is 2004
    7 years old, but it sounds pretty authentic and authoratative.

  9. smartman says:

    Farm This
    FARM is an acronym for Fast Aging Radical Musicians. Mellencamp looks like John Prines GRANDPA. Willie’s been busted more than an MG Midget. Neil is idealogically insane. Dave Matthews was born in South Africa. He has no corn field bona fides. Go fight the Blood Diamond harvesting warlords Dave and stop milking your one big hit like it’s White Christmas!

    Back when FA was raising some real dough the WSJ or Rolling Stone reported that forty cents out of every dollar was going to overhead aka graft corruption and skim. Not very good distribution of the lettuce eh Willie?

    Most family farms went down the crapper due to poor estate planning regarding the transfer of property and assets from generation to generation, lack of business acumen and poor soil conservation. You reap what you sow Farmer Jones.

    With Obama care coming down the pike they need to tramsform this into Pharma Aid. Foo Fighters can host and open with a cover of the Ramones “SEDATED”.

  10. chuck says:

    “Distribution of the lettuce”

  11. Cliffy says:

    Nice job, Hearne. Good article.

    Your piece you reference might be 7 years old, chuck, but the info is valid. Farm Aid has always been misguided but at least it used to be well intentioned. Now it’s just a sham. People like to blame corporations for coming in and running out the so-called “family farmers.” What really happened is the economy turned, commodity prices couldn’t keep up with inflation and farmers either had to get bigger or go out of business. The Misouri Rural Crisis Center and similar organizations are stuck back in 1985 when the blood was flowing freely out on the farm. They think farming is not a business but a “way of life.” Fuck that. If you can’t make money doing it, it’s called gardening.

    A growing segment of our society cares more about the happiness of chickens and pigs than they do about how we’re going to feed 9 billion people by mid-century. We’re out of land and we’re rapidly running out of water. We better figure out how to use technology to our best advantage or there’s going to be global chaos. As Adlai Stevenson said, “A hungry man is not a free man.” I’ll add, “a hungry man is pissed off and willing to kill in order to eat.”

    Farm Aid is worthless.

  12. Orphan of the Road says:

    It’s a corn-and-soybean-ghetto in the Heartland.
    Agriculture is complicated and the American Gothic of American farmers feeding the world is long gone. We are a net importer of food.

    The law of profits say you can make good money in a commodity market, IF you are the #1 or #2 provider. Consolidation of the markets has been the death knoll of the idea of the Family Farm. Forty-acres and a mule is a fool’s dream. Unless you want to live like the Plain People.

    Smartman and Cliffy give a good overview from the end-user’s point-of-view. They see the need for a sustainable way of feeding the world.

    The small producer has fewer and fewer options to sell their product. Some have adapted to the demand for a more natural system for raising meat. It is more intensive, requires less inputs and takes marginally longer to produce what is acclaimed as a better product. It brings a premium price not everyone is willing to pay.

    Today the Big Time Operator is farming thousands of acres, acres of corn or soybeans maybe some wheat. The corn and beans are generally headed for confinement operations for finishing hogs, cattle and poultry. Some now is diverted to ethanol, the distiller’s mash is usually diverted back to the food chain.

    Today’s farmer has to farm the government programs as well. LDPs, puts, calls, longs, shorts are just some of the skills needed to make a profit. A profit heavily dependent on government handouts. The money just passes through the farmer to the seed, fuel, fertilizer, equipment dealers.

    Farm Aid has lived past it’s use-by-date. In the beginning it was about helping farmers caught in a bubble of overpriced land. Those farmers have long retired or they are now the BTOs.

    I do remember Willie and the boys coming through the valley over the ridge from my little place in Pennsylvania. A tornado cut a wide path of destruction through the Amish and Mennonite communities. Farm Aid came in with money to get the families restarted. Did a concert which sold about 3000 tixs @$10.

    A concert to help the family farmer, couldn’t sound any better even if it was true.

  13. Hearne Christopher says:

    Actually, Urban Cowboy was 1980. She did do the “farm boy,” Nebraska Gov Bob Kerry two years earlier – in 1983 – when she was filming Terms of Enderament

  14. chuck says:

    “Net importer of food.”

    Do we make fuckin anything???

    I’m clickin my ruby slippers together and gonna say three times, “Mercantilism, mercantilism, mercantilism.”

  15. bschloz says:

    They send us Chinese Drywall and we send them Fannie Mae Bonds.

    1st qtr revised 0.4 GDP which includes huge stimulus… looks like a recession.
    Cramer is a nutjob…but when that cat tells you the market will shave 3% tomorrow… need to listen up. Truly a historic day in American history. No where to run or hide. Self Inflicted?… you bet -just like Lehman was self inflicted….it’s always a game of musical chairs…. US-10- year Treasury closes Friday @ 2.82% — down from 3.22 % on 7/1 … RE-FI that’s what we produce.

  16. chuck says:

    We get drywall from China?
    COME ON!!! We can make fuckin DRYWALL!!!!


  17. smartman says:

    Hey Chuck you’ll love this. Friend of mine owns a big commercial printing business in KC. Fucking Chinese can buy rolls of paper from the US, float it to China,slit it, sheet it, print it, die cut it, package it and ship it back and undercut him by 30%. Now they can’t turn a job in two weeks but you give them 6-8 weeks and they will bury you. His plant is highly automated so labor is not a big part of his cost. In order for him to compete against China his net margins drop to 3-5%.

  18. chuck says:

    Pat Buchanan.Where the fuck are ya?

    Shouldn’t we put Americans back to work?

    Its not a rhetorical question.


    It feels like America is on fire while our Kleptocrats, Plutocrats and Oligarchs fiddle.

    I get chasin the buck, but wtf???

    Our captains of industry, along with the movers and shakers on Wall Street, are Somali Pirates writ large with guns and brains.

  19. smartman says:

    One of the best episodes of South Park was when the Walmart opened up. After the boys realized the poison it really was they decided they needed to kill WalMart. They went to Bentonville to meet with Lee Scott who told them where the heart of Walmart was so they could kill it. At the end of their journey they ended up in the back of a Walmart store looking into a mirror.

    We the fucking people in order to form a more perfect check out line are the heart of WalMart. Too stupid to realize that we are eating our young so the Chinese can feed theirs after an 18 hour shift.

  20. chuck says:

    I was so depressed I had to go re watch both episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

    The Palastinian Chicken episode. Oh my God!!

    Hey, Americans are still funny!

  21. the log says:

    This is what the end of a ponzi scheme looks like.

  22. chuck says:

    God this pisses me off…
    New Balance, a company that is trying to stay in the USA.

    labor (via free trade) like Nike:

    At the factory here owned by New Balance, the last major athletic shoe brand to manufacture footwear in the United States, even workers on the shop floor recognize that in purely economic terms, the operation doesn’t make sense.

    The company could make far more money if, like Nike and Adidas, it shifted virtually all of these jobs to low-wage countries.

    So employees try each shift to make it up. Conversations on the shop floor are sparse at best, and the tasks at each workstation have been stripped of waste and precisely timed. Workers cut leather for a pair of shoes in 88 seconds, handle precise stitching in 37 seconds, and glue soles to uppers even faster.

    “The company already could make more money by going overseas and they know it,” said Scott Boulette, 35, a burly team leader who has his son’s name tattooed in Gothic letters down his left forearm. “So we hustle.”

    Now, however, comes what may be an insurmountable challenge. The Obama administration is negotiating a free-trade agreement with Vietnam and seven other countries, and it is unclear whether the plant can stand up to a flood of shoes from that country, already one of the leading exporters of footwear to the United States.

    Its like your friends you know that got hooked on Coke.


  23. David Martin says:

    I think it’s valid to call me out for not doing a good enough job answering the question posed in the headline. I should have made it more evident clear that Farm Aid does not command the attention or the resources it once did. (I didn’t in part because I thought it was sort of obvious.) If I had a do-over, I’d package the piece differently. The piece is more about how Farm Aid has changed with the times than the binary question the headline posed. So, public lash accepted.

  24. Hearne says:

    Make no mistake, Martin’s a stand up guy
    He’s kicked so much quality journalistic butt in the Pitch over the years that I felt bad taking him to task on this one.

    I’d been skeptical from the time of Farm Aid’s announcement and the hoopla of KC landing an event of this magnitude. Then I saw the lineup just before I left on vaca and didn’t get anything written. When I returned and saw the headline on the cover of the Pitch I figured I’d missed my chance. Until I read it.

    Hey, not everything we all write is investigative in nature. Martin’s problem here was more the headline. But then he is the managing editor now.

    That said, I have no doubt David will continue to turn out quality reporting and column writing. None.

  25. kcfred says:

    george carlin was right
    go find “george carlin the american dream” on youtube
    they own us. they have for years…

  26. john melonkamp says:

    can’t wait to see jason mrza. and you misspelled will dailey. and forgot ray price. other than that, stellar, accurate reporting, heern.

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