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Benefit Urges Fans to Message Congress

April 9, 1990

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Farm Aid IV mixed fund raising with political lobbying in a 14-hour concert on behalf of the American family farmer.

A sellout crowd of about 45,000 people at the Hoosier Dome heard more than 60 musicians - including Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and the band Crosby, Stills and Nash - perform in the Saturday night show.

″It would be nice if there wasn’t a need for Farm Aid. It would be nice if our government’s policies reflected a concern for families and for farming. There’s all kinds of things in this world that would be nice. We have to fight to make this government responsive to our needs,″ Browne said.

Donations for the fourth Farm Aid concert were still being tallied Sunday, and final figures were not scheduled to be released until today, said Farm Aid spokeswoman Linda Lewi. As of late Saturday, $1.3 million had been raised, she said.

The concert came two weeks before the nation observes the 20th anniversary of Earth Day, and Willie Nelson and other Farm Aid leaders took the opportunity to announce the forging of a coalition with farmers, environmentalis ts and consumers to work toward less use of pesticides and other chemicals in food production and more support for organic farming.

Postcards were distributed to concertgoers calling on Congress to pass a 1990 farm bill that will help family farmers use fewer chemicals and practice environmentally safe farming methods and to provide a pricing structure that covers the cost of food production.

Rock star John Mellencamp, who helped organize the event, indicated in an interview that federal farm policy has sacrificed the welfare of the independent farmer to promote corporate agriculture concerns.

″I’m not giving up. The face of this nation changes by the men that we admire, right, and I think that we haven’t felt the backlash of the last eight years yet. I think the ’90s will reflect that,″ said Mellencamp,

Mellencamp, Farm Aid President Nelson and fellow organizer Neil Young all played during the final, all-star hour of the marathon concert.

John made an unexpected appearance late in the program and performed three songs. The British rock singer had been in Indianapolis to visit AIDS patient Ryan White, who died Sunday.

″This one’s for Ryan,″ John said before beginning ″Candle in the Wind,″ a song he wrote about the tragic life of Marilyn Monroe. The song drew the biggest ovation of the show.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson called for a moment of silence for White during the concert. The civil rights activist and Democratic politician visited White’s family on Saturday, as did Nelson and musician-actor Kris Kristofferson.

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