Happy 25th anniversary to Farm News
Editor’s note: Farm News, a sister publication of The Messenger dedicated to covering agriculture in northern Iowa, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. In this column, Farm News Editor Kriss Nelson reflects on the paper’s history.
Farm News has embarked on their 25th year and we owe it all to you.
We have worked to bring you local, national and global agricultural news on a weekly basis since 1995 – a focus we keep today.
Over the 25 years of Farm News, there have been recurring themes in the agriculture industry that we have reported on extensively.
The weather, commodity prices, legislative policy and regulations – they have repeatedly been the topic of the headlines over the past 25 years and will continue to, as they are what drives the agricultural industry.
There have been huge transformations throughout the entire world of agriculture. Just thinking of the changes in technology can make your head spin. Driverless tractors? Whoever would have imagined? Technology isn’t always something electronic, however. Think back to your hybrids prior to 1995 and compare them to what you are preparing to put in the ground this year.
While I was sorting through nearly 1,300 editions of Farm News, one particular subject that sparked my attention time and time again was ethanol.
That trip down memory lane allowed me to see the very beginning of the ethanol industry here in Iowa. The excitement, as well as apprehension, that was shared throughout the beginning process that included site studies, to ground breaking ceremonies to the startup of the facility. It’s an industry that today, is now in jeopardy.
The roller coaster of commodity prices was something else that is the same as it was 25 years ago. Those ups followed by downs also made the headlines. We worked with a lot of marketing experts over the years in an attempt to explain the reasoning’s, expectations and provide assistance to producers to help market their crops.
We were introduced to a whole new way of raising livestock. CAFOS, the regulations and policies -(a license to spread manure? What? I am sure that was a head scratcher to many back then). This innovation has led to a lot of backlash, thousands of court hearings at local, state and national levels – and continues do so. Producers have stepped up to the plate in order to feed our ever growing population and Iowa is a leader in the livestock industry today because of these innovations.
Farmland values also made big headlines. They hit an all-time high in 2004 of $2,629. And they only went up from there.
We have celebrated hundreds of Century Farm families and showcased just as many barns, not only in our 33 county coverage area, but beyond with our Barns of Iowa book we published several years ago.
We have shared countless recipes and featured the farm cooks that remain a vital part to all farms — not only as a weekly part of the paper, but with recipe books we have published as well.
Speaking of books several of you helped when we reached out for the submission your old farm photos that helped us publish three volumes of Iowa Farm Life books.
Farm News stepped out of the publishing world and started our own farm show in 2002. The annual Farm News Ag Show is held each December in Fort Dodge and we will be holding our second annual Farm News Ag Show in Emmetsburg on July 30.
Searching through the old editions also allowed for me to remember some people that may no longer be with us.
Our first editor, Bill Rentsch passed away in 2013. Those of us that started with him, miss him terribly. He definitely laid the foundation that allowed us to build and remain strong for 25 years.
Randy Mudgett, Kelli Bloomquist and Larry Kershner also served as editors of Farm News. Personally speaking, I learned a lot from all three of them and they all have big shoes to fill.
But, when I talk about names, I have some that every reader of Farm News will recognize. Clayton Rye, Darcy Dougherty Maulsby, Karen Schwaller, Kristin Danley-Greiner. Clayton, Karen and I have been with Farm News since the beginning. Darcy and Kristin soon followed, starting out as interns — that’s over 100 years of combined service. The loyalty they have for Farm News is nothing short of amazing. We have gained some and lost some over the years, but that group of talented writers has stuck by this farm paper through it all.
Alan Guebert, David Kruse, Brian Hoops, Bob Streit –their weekly commentary, whether you agree with them, or not, has provided some interesting insight on agriculture.
Jerry Nelson and Rick Friday are also long time contributors to Farm News, helping to supply a chuckle or two, even when there isn’t always the best of news to read.
We have held on to relationships with many people, businesses and commodity groups from the beginning. Our relationship with Iowa State University and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is one I will forever be grateful for — they have assisted all of us with information on a variety of topics they are what I consider, leading experts in the agricultural world. The state of Iowa is lucky to have them.
We are fortunate to also have advertisers that believe in our product 100 percent with many supporting us from the beginning.
From behind the scenes, Dana Lantz, advertising sales manager and his team, Todd Wood, Holly Rokes and Christine Johnson work to help our advertisers be profitable – even in these times of an economic downturn.
And of course, our readers. I have gotten to hear from so many of you over the years. I am often humbled when I realize the impact we have made.