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The Associated Press Cara Fraver, left, and her husband Luke Deikis of Quincy Farm in Easton meet country music artist Willie Nelson on his tour bus on Thursday in Colonie.

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SPAC to host annual Farm Aid benefit concert

Saturday, June 15, 2013 - Updated: 4:09 AM

ALBANY (AP) -- Singer Willie Nelson is taking his annual Farm Aid benefit concert to upstate New York with an all-day festival of music and locally grown food in September.

The event in Saratoga Springs, 28 miles north of Albany, will feature Nelson and other Farm Aid board members John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews, as well as other artists to be announced soon. Tickets go on sale to Farm Aid members June 18 and to the general public June 28, the Farm Aid organization announced on Friday.

The concert will be Sept. 21 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

At a stop in Albany on Thursday, Nelson said the Northeast is fertile ground for new farmers and sustainable agriculture. Farm Aid's mission is to keep family farmers on the land and support the movement toward healthy, locally grown food, he said.

"There's a whole lot of small family farmers in upstate New York," Nelson told reporters on his tour bus in Albany before heading south for an appearance at a country music festival at Hunter Mountain in the Catskills. "I think this is a great place to try to reach some family farmers."

Nelson said Farm Aid exists because government agricultural policies often favor large corporate-owned farms rather than small farmers. "Small family farmers really need help; the big corporate farmers are doing OK," he said.

Nelson said he wants to encourage more young farmers to get back on the land and encourage people to feed their families wholesome food from farms closer to their homes. "More and more people are asking about where their breakfast comes from, why it comes from 1,500 miles away when there's a farm next door," Nelson said. "A lot of people are thinking about what we're feeding our kids. Young people are trying to stay healthy, wondering who's watching out for our food supply."

In New York, there's a heated debate in farm country over shale gas development, which currently is under a moratorium while state officials complete an environmental and health review. Some farmers see gas leases as a solution to their financial struggles, while others oppose gas drilling for fear of accidents causing water and air pollution.

     

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