Willie Nelson is best known for his incredible career as a country music star. But he is also an icon to agriculture for his creation and longtime support of Farm Aid concerts, including the 2011 concert scheduled for Aug. 13 at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.
In recognition of his accomplishments, Farm Aid, the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame will induct Willie Nelson into the Agricultural Hall of Fame.
Nelson will be honored in a ceremony to take place on the morning before Farm Aid's 2011 concert.
"We want to recognize Mr. Nelson for his long commitment to America's family farmers," said Cathi Hahner, executive director of the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame. "To this day, he continues the work that he started back in 1985 when he, along with John Mellencamp and Neil Young, organized the first Farm Aid concert, raising millions of dollars and drawing enormous attention to the devastating economic problems faced by this country's family farmers and their communities."
As Farm Aid's founder and president, Nelson has been a champion in the work to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on their land. Over the past 26 years, Farm Aid has raised more than $39 million to promote a strong and resilient family farm system of agriculture.
"I am extremely honored and humbled to join the company of the 38 prominent inductees already in the Agricultural Hall of Fame," says Nelson. "I have long said that family farmers are the backbone of our country. I never thought Farm Aid would need to be around as long as it has been, but we know our country needs family farmers, and Farm Aid will be here as long as family farmers need us. It's up to all of us to work together to keep family farmers growing."
Growing up in the small farm town of Abbott, Tex., Nelson gained a respect and admiration for family farmers and the value of hard work. Through his work with Farm Aid, Nelson has worked with local, regional and national organizations to promote fair farm policies and grassroots organizing campaigns designed to defend and bolster family farm-centered agriculture. By strengthening the voices of family farmers, Farm Aid stands up for the most resourceful, heroic Americans — the family farmers who work the land.
"Willie has said he realized early on that playing the guitar was a heck of a lot easier than being a farmer," said Farm Aid executive director and long-time friend Carolyn Mugar. "The family farmer has never had a better friend than Willie Nelson; he has worked tirelessly to stand up for family farmers and the good food we all want."
The Agricultural Hall of Fame's inductees include George Washington Carver, John Deere, Louise Stanley and Thomas Jefferson. The National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame was issued a rare federal charter by the act of the 86th Congress to serve as the national museum of agriculture and to honor the American farmer. Today, it sits on a 164 acre complex in the Kansas City, Kan., metro area that includes the Agricultural Hall of Fame, Museum of Farming, Farm Town USA, Poultry Museum and the National Farmers Memorial, which stands as the nation's only national monument honoring the American farmer — past, present and future.