Neil Young Sings Out Against the Age of Agribusiness

Maia Welbel

On his latest record, The Monsanto Years, Neil Young criticizes industrial agribusiness.

The ever-incendiary Neil Young is set to release a new album on June 29 titled The Monsanto Years. Young collaborated with the band Promise of the Real, featuring Willie Nelson’s two sons, Lukas and Micah.

The album offers blunt commentary on agriculture policy and GMOs. Its condemning lyrics harmonize with the environmentalism narrative Young has established throughout his career.

The first verse of A Rock Star Bucks a Coffee Shop” reads, I want a cup of coffee but I don’t want a GMO/I like to start my day off without helping Monsanto.” The tune goes on to describe Vermont’s legal battle with the Grocery Manufacturers Alliance over GMO labeling: They sued the state of Vermont to overturn the people’s will.”

Monsanto responded less than favorably to the accusations — some implicitly, and some quite explicitly — present on the album. In an interview with Billboard, the company contended that they were portrayed inaccurately. We recognize there is a lot of misinformation about who we are and what we do, and unfortunately several of those myths seem to be captured in these lyrics,” they say. 

At 69, Young has clearly not lost touch with his provocative side. A film chronicling the recording process that is to be released alongside the album shows him and the Nelson brothers satirically role-playing as farmers and Monsanto executives.

Young and the band will be kicking off a summer tour in July to promote the album. Expect to see more activists than Monsanto executives in the audience. 

Help In These Times Celebrate & Have Your Gift Matched!

In These Times is proud to share that we were recently awarded the 16th Annual Izzy Award from the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College. The Izzy Award goes to an independent outlet, journalist or producer for contributions to culture, politics or journalism created outside traditional corporate structures.

Fellow 2024 Izzy awardees include Trina Reynolds-Tyler and Sarah Conway for their joint investigative series “Missing In Chicago," and journalists Mohammed El-Kurd and Lynzy Billing. The Izzy judges also gave special recognition to Democracy Now! for coverage that documented the destruction wreaked in Gaza and raised Palestinian voices to public awareness.

In These Times is proud to stand alongside our fellow awardees in accepting the 2024 Izzy Award. To help us continue producing award-winning journalism a generous donor has pledged to match any donation, dollar-for-dollar, up to $20,000.

Will you help In These Times celebrate and have your gift matched today? Make a tax-deductible contribution to support independent media.

Maia Welbel is an intern at Rural America In These Times. She is a rising junior at Pomona College where she studies environmental analysis and dance. She is also a contributor to The Student Life.
The War on Protest Cover
Get 10 issues for $19.95

Subscribe to the print magazine.