Neil Young Refuses to Play Venues Supported by Factory Farms

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Neil Young is refusing to perform at concert venues that are used as factory farms.

“When I look at the compromise that I would have to make to do that, the things that I don’t believe in, that I’d have to endorse, it doesn’t turn me on,” said Young during a recent interview.

Factory farming is a form of industrial livestock production used to maximize the amount of product and minimize costs and has been criticized for being cruel to animals as well as detrimental to the environment. The practice is still prevalent since many major foodservice and catering companies are supplied by factory farms.

Young has been speaking out against factory farming for decades. In1985 he helped establish the annual Farm Aid concerts, which raise money for family farmers in the U.S.

“I can deal with the power for the venue, I can make it clean,” said Young, an environmentalist, and supporter of sustainable family farming.  “I can make the P.A. clean, the lights clean, the electricity in the building clean. I can clean up all my vehicles. I’ve got the right fuel. I can do all of that. But the food — all those places are fed by factory farms.”

He added, “I can’t support it … Good food that has to be clean food, sustainably grown, and presented in a sustainable way. Unless the venues are clean, and that they work that way, I won’t be there.”

Young played his last live concert on September 2019 at Farm Aid, along with a number of private performances since then. In 2021, Young said he was pulling back from touring to support his latest Crazy Horse album, Barn, because of ongoing COVID-19 concerns.

“I don’t want to put people in danger,” said Young at the time. “I don’t want people to see me out there and think I think everything is okay. I don’t think everything is okay.” 

Now gearing up for his 42nd album and his 15th with Crazy Horse, World Record, out Nov. 18, Young’s latest stance may significantly hinder the amount of shows the Canadian rock icon will be able to put on moving ahead since a large percentage of venues have food supplied by a factory farm in one form or another.

“I’ve seen too much,” said Young of his decision. ”I can’t do it. I believe in what I believe, and it’s grounded in science. I know what’s going on in the planet, what caused it, what we’re continuing to do, and I cannot support buildings, organizations, and companies that will not change that. If they change it, then I can consider going.”

Photo: Ebet Roberts/Redferns

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