Monday, September 8, 2003

Farm Aid actually aids farms

78 percent of 2001's take went to grants, other help

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - Most of the money raised by Farm Aid Inc. goes toward helping farmers, records show.

Nearly all of Farm Aid's income comes from contributions and its annual benefit concert, which was held Sunday in Columbus.

In 2001, the most recent year for which Internal Revenue Service records are available, Farm Aid Inc. awarded $344,636 in grants to 43 groups in 27 states and spent $452,355 on salaries and costs to support a farmers hot line and other efforts.

That means 78 percent of the nonprofit group's total budget of $1 million went toward helping farmers. This is better than the 60 percent or 65 percent mark that watchdog groups expect charities to spend on programs.

Putting on the benefit concerts can be expensive, though. The 2001 concert in Noblesville, Ind., brought in more than $1.3 million but had expenses of about $818,000. That left a profit of roughly $530,000.

Most of the costs are associated with staging the event because the artists who perform pay for their own transportation and lodging, said Glenda Yoder, Farm Aid Inc. associate director.

In 1985, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young organized the concert, which has taken place every year since then.

Those three are on the Farm Aid Inc. board and performed at Sunday's sold-out concert in suburban Columbus, along with Dave Matthews, who joined the board in 2001. Other featured performers were Sheryl Crow, Brooks & Dunn and Trick Pony.

Farm Aid Inc. doesn't give money directly to individuals. Rather, it awards grants once a year - most between $3,000 and $7,500 - to groups such as the Farmers Legal Action Group and the National Family Farm Coalition.

These groups provide emergency assistance to farmers, educational campaigns, counseling to avoid foreclosure and other help.

Ohio groups have received $188,000 over the years. At least three Ohio groups have applied this year, said Farm Aid Inc. Director Ted Quaday. Grants will be awarded in December.


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