Texas icon Willie Nelson recently hosted the 20th annual Farm Aid concert – can you believe two decades have passed since Nelson, Neil Young, and others held the first concert to help small independent farmers being driven out of their livelihoods by the Wal-Mart-ization of the cornfield, so to speak?

Farm Aid organizers say family farmers guarantee fresh, safe, and healthy food, stimulate local economies, and maintain the independent spirit of America. Still, Farm Aid has fought one tough battle. Family farms have continued to disappear at an alarming rate since the concerts began, and recent data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists farmers and ranchers as topping the list of occupations most in decline, with 250,000 jobs expected to go away by 2012. Still, Nelson and friends aren’t inclined to break into a melancholy chorus of “Turn Out the Lights, the Party’s Over.” Their advice to anyone wanting to join them is simple – buy fresh farm foods from local growers.

Get Off the Roof

That same statistical report also revealed something surprising about police officers and firefighters. Emergency workers face certain dangers in serving and protecting and don’t hesitate to pull the “we could get killed at any moment” card when seeking more money and benefits. Hey, power to them. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ list of 10 most dangerous jobs in the U.S. doesn’t include either the badge-flashers or the hose-toters. Loggers, fisher … uh, fisherpeople … taxi drivers, steel workers, trash collectors, roofers, truck drivers, pilots, electric power line installers, and farmers all have a greater likelihood of being killed at work. And most of them don’t earn as much as cops. Garbage workers everywhere should jump off that moving truck one last time and sprint to the police academy, where the job is safer, the chance of taxpayers giving you a raise is greater, and the uniforms are snappier. (Those of you who are attracted by the weaponry, however – stick to cart-lifting.)

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