Fresno seeks "Farm Aid" venue

FRESNO, Calif. Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp helped launch "Farm Aid" in 1985.

While many midwest farmers have benefitted over the years, the tour has never come to California. Local organizers want to change that.

Dale Simmons of Reedley works the world's most fertile soil. Simmons and his step-son Nick Salazar operate "Farmer and the Dale," which delivers fresh, organic produce around the state.

Salazar said, "Farm Aid may not help me and our farm but it'll help someone and that's what counts. We're the largest agriculture region in the world. They've never been here and we're number-one in almost everything."

Salazar and Simmons were featured in a video sent to "Farm Aid" organizers.

Mike Dozier, Director of Community and Economic Development at Fresno State, sent in a proposal to host this year's concert at Chukchansi Park. Dozier explained, "The video is the small farmers. It's their voice telling Farm Aid that they should come here. If they're not moved by that video then I'll be very surprised."

"Farm Aid" has stayed primarily in the midwest and the northeast but Dozier says California's troubles deserve the national stage.

Farmers have struggled with water issues and the list of failed local dairies continues to grow. Dozier said, "What it does is provides a recognition for small farmers locally."

"Farm Aid" helps struggling farmers with grant programs.

Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan rocked Chukchansi Park on August 14, 2009. Dozier says a packed house then would have sent a strong message. "If they sold that concert out they would have said, you know, Fresno's a good place to have this concert. We should think about that."

Dozier doesn't think "Farm Aid" has ever been lobbied in such a way. He thinks Fresno has good shot.

Last year "Farm Aid" didn't announce a concert venue until August.

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