On the Road Again ... for Farm Aid Singer Willie Nelson Is Giving the Proceeds from Several Concerts to Midwest Farmers

Article excerpt

EVEN if country singer Willie Nelson still sings about lost and forgotten love, it is really flood-stricken Midwestern farmers who are always on his mind these days.

On tour in the Boston area this month, Mr. Nelson is raising money for the farmers through Farm Aid Inc., a national family-farm advocacy organization that he founded in 1985. So far, the group has distributed $10.7 million to farm groups, churches, and service agencies in 43 states.

And in the aftermath of the Great Flood of 1993, the famed musician has donated the proceeds of three recent Midwest concerts to the organization's new Family Farm Disaster Fund.

Seated in his tour bus after a rollicking two-hour evening performance at the South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset, Nelson says Midwest farmers need more help than they are currently getting despite good efforts on the part of the Clinton administration. Last week, President Clinton signed legislation that will provide $6.2 billion in federal assistance to farmers and other Midwestern flood victims.

"This new administration is passing some very important legislation to cover a lot of little problems ... but {farmers} need more, more, more," he said in a Monitor interview. "It is very devastating in that part of the country."

Nevertheless, the administration is making a solid effort to at least listen, he says. Earlier this month, Nelson and other farmers met with United States Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy to present suggestions on how to assist Midwest farmers. Specifically, they recommended the passage of a second disaster bill to help the farmers this fall.

But, in the long run, family farmers need to stay in business to keep the US economy moving forward, Nelson says.

"We've knocked the bottom rung off of our economic ladder, which is the farmer," he says. "So until we put it back and put 7 million of those farmers back on the land, you would immediately have 7 million new taxpayers, sell 7 million new pickups, 7 million new tractors, and jump-start the economy," he says.

Though Nelson originally set up the Farm Aid office in his native Texas, the organization is now based in Cambridge, Mass. …