Dave Matthews, Neil Young, Pete Seeger knock fracking at Farm Aid

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New York’s anti-fracking movement got a nod from folk and rock royalty on Saturday, with Neil Young, Pete Seeger and Dave Matthews all speaking out against the controversial technique at Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid fundraiser.

The yearly concert event was held at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center over the weekend, attracting a sold-out crowd of 25,000 to the highly touted venue on the grounds of Saratoga Spa State Park.

Matthews, who has made near-annual trips to SPAC with his band since the 1990s, was the first to broach the topic, acknowledging farmers who held anti-fracking signs in the front of the audience during a panel discussion that kicked off the event.

“Don’t frack New York. Don’t frack our farmlands,” Matthews said to applause. “And if you really need to frack something, why don’t you go frack yourself?”

At one point on stage, Young wore an orange t-shirt underneath his trademark red flannel. It “New York is meant to be frack free,” Seeger sang. (Seeger, you’ll recall, has made a couple appearances at the state Capitol to speak out against fracking. He lives in Beacon, Dutchess County.)

Farmers in New York appear to be somewhat split on hydrofracking in New York, which remains under a de facto moratorium first launched in 2008. While some have been outspoken against the technique used as part of the natural-gas extraction process, others are looking to lease their gas rights for production. The New York Farm Bureau has supported fracking over the past several years.

Here’s a YouTube video of Matthews’ remarks, posted Tuesday by an attendee:

(Hans Pennick / AP Photo)

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9 Comments

  1. First, how do we know these were farmers that held up signs, they were more likely paid fractivists. Second, too bad the bands, and everyone else, benefit from clean burning natural gas while dismissing production techniques that have never been shown to cause groundwater pollution and supports America’s enegy independance. Obama, EPA and all the other regulatory agencies have publically stated HVHF is safe.

  2. Farmers are not split on the issue 85 percent of the farming community is for safe drilling and the word “frack” dows not make it unsafe it is just a word. These singers only speakout to sell albums to those who live in cities that use the natural gas. Cuomo stands by and lets outside activist be brought in by yoko ono and other uninformed idiots and wonders why it has become political. He has created his own monster and Its bullship that he let it get to this point and blames it on the landowners for not doing HIS JOB OF EDUCATING

  3. It really speaks volumes when those *for* fracking call those of us who are not “uninformed idiots”. Come see what fracking sites have done to farms, the animals and the families (not to mention the earth!) living on or around the site. It isn’t pretty. It isn’t healthy. Don’t be seduced by the money- it leaves devastation behind. There is a reason I am against fracking and I am proud to say I’m informed, I’ve seen it, and I’m fighting against it.

  4. MargiE

    MY FAMILY FARM IS IN FRANKLIN FORKS GAS WELLS ON THE PROPERTY AND ALL AROUND SO DON’T FEED ME A CROCK OF YOUR BS ABOUT WHAT FARCKING HAS DONE TO FARMS I KNOW FIRST HAND. YOUR MOST LIKELY A NYker WHO’S NEVER SEEN A FARM OUTSIDE HER REARVIEW MIRROR AND THE BS THAT IS BEING SPREAD ABOUT GAS DRILLING IN NY IS BEING DONE LARGLEY IN PART BY MIS INFORMED IDIOTS WHO RELY ON FOSSIL FUELS OR THEIR OWN USE

  5. I think New York needs to invest much more money in education because as I read the above comments for fracking it is clear that pro frackers did not pay attention in chemistry class. It is very simple people; toxic chemicals in = toxic chemical throughout. These toxins will be around for your great grandchildren to enjoy. Please THINK because once it happens we can’t take it back. I love New York and hope that Gov Cuomo does too.

  6. Karen nice rib in the failure to use spell check but ignorance such as yours has no check method. Physicist all agree that it is not possible for water to defy gravity and flow up through a mile of solid rock

  7. Pro-frack farmers tend to no longer farm–they give up their ability to farm by going with oil and gas. Let those fracked-farm products be labeled as such: “Grown on a fracked farm!”
    Here in Michigan, farmers ARE near frack wells, including a dairy farm that is well known to northern Michigan foodies–Shetlers. The owners are pro-frack and their farm is just a few miles from the biggest frack wells in Michigan. I don’t dare drink that milk. Fracked lands produce only ill will and ill people and ill animals.
    Kudos to Farm Aid! We need your attention here in Michigan!
    LuAnne Kozma, Ban Michigan Fracking, http://www.banmichiganfracking.org

  8. Dear Jim Smith.
    I live in upstate NY where we need jobs. But my idea for jobs is for jobs for our future and our childrens’ future, not just a boom and bust bunch of jobs that gas companies are not telling the whole story . Most of the high paying jobs are coming from internally or from people who know the business of fracking. Locals will get trucking jobs that don’t last and then they are back unemployed, looking for jobs. Instead I propose- giving land rich and cash poor farmers lots and lots of solar panels (it’s being done in Vermont where that state has BANNED fracking) and have the farmers our energy producers. Next there will be people needed to put up solar panels on homes, on buildings etc. Then there is training people to put in with drilling water wells, geo thermal heating and cooling systems. More jobs. Then there is wind, more jobs… Take algae based bio fuels and switch grass based bio fuels and create lots of jobs for infrastructure to make our cars go and our houses heated….. not to mention plant based plastics for medical uses. No Mr. Smith. There could be lots of jobs, just not jobs that will taint our water, destroy our land and pollute our air. Thanks to all who participated in this worthwhile event.