Local News

Even before concert, Farm Aid pays off in NC

Posted September 12, 2014 4:31 p.m. EDT
Updated September 12, 2014 6:45 p.m. EDT

— Even before the annual event that is Farm Aid scheduled a tour stop in the Tar Heel State, its impact was being felt in the fields of Nash County.

The concert, a sellout show at Raleigh's Walnut Creek Amphitheatre, features Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews and Jack White among others. Delta Rae, an American folk rock band founded by three siblings at Duke University, is also in the lineup.

Gates open at noon.

Since 1985, Farm Aid has raised more than $45 million to help family farmers, and Mikey Bissette, of Nash County, is among them.

As a breed, farmers are proud, self-reliant and often soft-spoken.

Bissette fits the mold. For more than 30 years, he has farmed 500 acres near Bailey. His three sons are helping with the sweet potato harvest at this time of year.

In 2005, when that crop failed, Bissette suffered a double disappointment when his claim for federal crop insurance was denied.

"Sometimes you get in a situation and you need to ask somebody for help," Bissette said. "My wife, she called Farm Aid."

The organization raises money and awareness for America's family farmers. A Farm Aid contact put the Bissette family in touch with a local organization, and just like that, Bissette had an advocate fighting for his insurance claim.

"It means a whole lot, because you got someone who cares. If we hadn't received the help from Farm Aid, we wouldn't be out in this field right now," he said.

Bissette will be in that field again, harvesting sweet potatoes, Saturday when music fans gather in Raleigh.

He's comfortable knowing that someone still cares about the family farmer.

"There's a whole lot of farmers around here that's gotten help from Farm Aid," he said. 

"Farm Aid was there to help 'em when they needed it."