U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Kathy Hochul joined with Senator Charles E. Schumer and Representatives Brian Higgins and Louise Slaughter today in urging Farm Aid to choose Buffalo as the host city for the annual Farm Aid benefit concert in 2012. World-renowned artists, including Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews, are slated to perform at next year’s benefit concert. The benefit not only has potential to generate millions in revenue for the greater Buffalo area, but will raise awareness for locally produced and homegrown foods, highlighting a staple industry of Western New York.

“I cannot think of a more perfect location than Buffalo to host Farm Aid 2012,” Senator Gillibrand said. “In addition to a historically rich agricultural tradition, Western New York is home to a vibrant local food movement with over 400 independently-owned restaurants promoting locally-grown and raised foods. Both Farm Aid and the greater Buffalo area would benefit tremendously from the 2012 benefit concert. Once the Farm Aid artists get a taste of Buffalo they will want to come back again and again.”

“With well over 1,000 family farms located right here in Western New York, there is no question that downtown Buffalo is ideal for next year’s Farm Aid concert,” said Congresswoman Hochul. “Our local farms already generate in excess of $300 million to the New York State economy. Let’s bring this concert to Western New York and shine the spotlight on our hard-working farmers.”

“Buffalo and Farm Aid 2012 would be a match made in heaven,” said Senator Schumer. “Bringing this incredible concert series that does so much for famers to Western New York would be the perfect way to highlight one of the pillars of the local economy. Simply put, Buffalo would be great for Farm Aid, and Farm Aid would be great for Buffalo – we’re going to put on a full court press to bring this great series, and economic shot in the arm, to Western New York.”

“Many Americans might not think of Western New York as an agricultural region,” said Congressman Higgins. “But this community is home to thousands of farms that contribute millions to our economy. This will be a great opportunity to raise awareness of the unique challenges for our dairy farmers and grape, apple and other specialty crop producers.”

“There’s no better place for Farm Aid 2012 than Buffalo,” said Representative Slaughter. “New York State has a diverse agricultural sector ranking second in the nation for apple production, third in the nation for production of grapes for juice and wine, and fourth in the production of several key vegetable crops including cucumbers and snap beans. Agriculture is an important industry for our state and the number one economic driver in Upstate New York. And we all know that Buffaloians are great hosts.”

In a letter to Executive Director Carolyn Mugar, the officials wrote, “With its newly revitalized waterfront, proximity to international metropolitan cities and tourism destinations, and a thriving local food and agriculture movement, Buffalo offers the market and infrastructure necessary to make Farm Aid 2012 a success, and also reflects directly upon the founding mission of Farm Aid, as the city sits in the heart of a rich agricultural region.”

Farm Aid was originally organized in 1985 by Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and raise funds and awareness to keep farm families on their land. To date, Farm Aid has toured the continental United States and has raised nearly $40 million to promote a strong family farm system of agriculture.

Full text of the letter to Farm Aid is below:

Executive Director Carolyn Mugar
Farm Aid
501 Cambridge Street, Third Floor
Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02141

Dear Executive Director Carolyn Mugar,

We write today to urge you to choose Buffalo, New York as the host city of Farm Aid 2012. With its newly revitalized waterfront, proximity to international metropolitan cities and tourism destinations, and a thriving local food and agriculture movement, Buffalo offers the market and infrastructure necessary to make Farm Aid 2012 a success, and also reflects directly upon the founding mission of Farm Aid, as the city sits in the heart of a rich agricultural region.

The local food movement is alive and well in Western New York. In some of Buffalo’s most economically distressed neighborhoods lie vibrant urban farms, a spectacular garden co-op, even a sustainable tilapia farm on property that was once a blighted vacant lot. The farm to table movement is growing exponentially, with over 400 independently-owned restaurants promoting locally-grown and raised food. Farm Aid’s impact will be significant, acknowledged and supported by the local community, and would ignite this movement’s momentum even further.

Buffalo is a city surrounded by rural towns rooted in agriculture. From small estate grape growers to orchards and family-owned dairy farms, the Buffalo region has held an agricultural tradition for generations. Western New York is home to over 1,000 family-owned dairy farms, over 700 grape-growers and hundreds of orchards, contributing $300 million to New York’s economy annually. Similar to Farm Aid’s mission of keeping farmers on their land, we have been connecting with these farmers, doing our best to support the men, women and families that work so tirelessly to feed our nation. What better way to recognize and honor the legacy of New York Farmers than by bringing Farm Aid here for them to enjoy firsthand.

The City is well-suited to host an event of Farm Aid’s magnitude. Buffalo lies just a ninety-minute drive south of Toronto, Canada, and just miles from Niagara Falls, which draws over 8 million tourists on an annual basis. It is home to dozens of architectural gems, and was touted as a world-class destination by Stephanie Meeks, President and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, following their annual conference that set a new record for attendance here in Buffalo this past October.

We strongly encourage you to give Buffalo serious consideration to host Farm Aid 2012. We know you and your great roster of performers will want to come back again and again.

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