I recently received a brief note via email from a reader concerned about all the negative reports he reads in our pages. He mentioned articles on drought, low prices and high production costs as examples.
I have to agree. We have reported a lot of bad news over the past few years, including legislation, regulation, drought and weeds that seem impossible to kill. But that’s part of the job as I explained in a reply email:
As a farm journalist for almost 40 years I’ve covered a lot of ups and down in agriculture and a lot more bad farm bills than good ones; they get weaker and less understandable with each new program.
I’ve written more stories than I would have liked over the past five years about drought, freeze damage and low prices. I did have the opportunity, however, to report on dollar cotton, an experience I never expected to cover.
But we do offer uplifting stories as well. A piece I did two years ago on Plainview farmer Elmo Snelling, who turned 100 later that summer, is one of the most fun and uplifting pieces I’ve ever done. A feature last year on Dahlen Hancock, who farms on the High Plains near Lubbock, also ranks high on the list of pieces that show agriculture in a positive light, despite challenges. We just published an article out of Lorenzo, Texas, on a farm family with three generations working together to combine the experience of two generations with the technological know-how of the three grandsons.
These are the stories I like to do, but I also have to report on the bad news. It’s important that we record how bad the drought is, what it’s costing in lost revenue and what it means to individual farmers who have poured heart and soul into making a crop only to see it wither away, get hailed out or sold for prices far below breakeven.
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I was reminded last fall that what we do can make a difference. We published a lengthy piece on the ramifications of RMA refusing to initiate the APH adjustment for this year. That story made its way to the ag committee staff. I don’t take credit for the story being anything spectacular. It was simply a story that needed to be written and I was privileged to have the opportunity to write it.
At Farm Press we are journalists, though a tad different from those who work for what I call the public media—big news organizations. We don’t look for bad news. Our responsibility is to tell your stories, farmers’ stories, in the most fair, accurate and timely way we can. It’s our job to pass along useful information about new products, new practices and crop market movements. Sometimes that means writing about bad farm programs, depressed prices and lost crops. Sometimes it means celebrating a son or daughter coming back to the farm to carry on a long tradition. It’s all part of the mix and it’s why I love my job.
You might find this link interesting.