Fans of local family farms -- and fans of Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Willie Nelson: Now's the time to become a member of Farm Aid. Starting July 17, Farm Aid members will get special advance sale tickets to the Farm Aid 2009 Presented by Horizon Organic music festival, happening Sunday., Oct. 4 at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Maryland Heights, Mo.

The annual concert festival is a fundraiser for Farm Aid, an organization that works "to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America." In addition to the headliners and other artists, Farm Aid 2009 will also feature hands-on activities for concertgoers who want to meet farmers, work with their hands, or simply learn more about how family farms benefit the environment and communities.

Somewhat unexpected, in view of Farm Aid's goals, is Horizon Organic's sponsorship of the event -- a sponsorship deal that's actually embedded the name of the Dean Foods-owned company in the event title. Horizon Organics is currently being boycotted by the Organic Consumers Association, which says the company gets most of its milk from "factory farm feedlots where the animals have been brought in from conventional farms and are kept in intensive confinement, with little or no access to pasture." In fact, a 2003 Christian Science Monitor article expressed worries from family farmers who'd had their payments reduced by Horizon Organic. The company does, however, remain a big purchaser of milk from organic family farms.

For non-Farm Aid members, tickets for the festival go on sale at 10 a.m. on July 25 through Live Nation and the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater box office. Per-ticket prices range from $39 to $169.

Photo courtesy of Farm Aid

Farm Aid tickets go on sale tomorrow
See and hear Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Willie Nelson at Farm Aid 2009 in Missouri this October.