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After two decades serving Farm Futures readers, it’s time to move on.

Mike Wilson, Senior Executive Editor

December 15, 2023

4 Min Read
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Over the years I’ve been blessed to listen in and share the great farm stories of our time. These stories touch on good times and bad, and there’s always a lesson that ends up in articles here, or wherever you get Farm Futures.

Since farming is chiefly a multi-generation family business, it seems we’re always sharing stories on how farms move their business leadership to the next generation.

And now I’m getting a taste of my own medicine.

After two decades of serving Farm Futures readers, I have new responsibilities managing our incredibly smart crew of Farm Progress editors at 18 media brands across the country. Along with my colleague Eric Braun we are focused on new ways to satisfy the needs of our many farmer readers and online users, from California to New York and everywhere in between.

That has meant transition for me, so I’m handing the reins of this rig over to Pam Caraway, one of the most passionate and enthusiastic farm magazine editors I have the privilege of knowing. We both love this work and feel lucky to serve farm families. I’m thrilled to see what Pam will do with this magazine and its digital offerings.

I cut my teeth as a college intern and budding journalist under the tutelage of some really smart editors at the Prairie Farmer office in Decatur, Ill. I still remember getting back my first stories bleeding red ink from the edits made by my kind-hearted and brilliant boss, Gary Reynolds. He was so patient! But by the end of that summer I had figured out how to interview a farmer. I had some notion of how to write an article that farmers might find useful.

Related:Pam Caraway to lead Farm Futures

Now it’s my chance to help others do that very same thing. It’s that process that drives our storytelling at Farm Futures as well as Farm Progress brands nationwide.  

Uncertain future

The start of my Farm Futures journey came at a precarious point in my life. I had surgery for a rare cancer around Thanksgiving 2003. Little did I know then that I was headed for seven months of the worst chemotherapy you could imagine, with six weeks of radiation thrown in for good measure.

Throughout that uncertainty I felt a need to find a new purpose. I found it when my new boss said, ‘We want you to re-launch Farm Futures,’ a national business magazine we had discontinued in 1999 for a variety of reasons.

That new job was a lifeline – something to look forward to and take my mind off health worries. (Through the grace of God and modern medicine I’m now a two-time cancer survivor; a story for another day).

The re-tooled Farm Futures would focus on marketing, risk management, and help farmers build business acumen. The magazine would feature an art-driven cover different from any other farm magazine.

Over these past 20 years we have become the information provider farmers knew would help them make more money.

The years flew by – they always do when you’re having fun, right? I’ve been blessed to collaborate with great journalists, market analysts, digital experts, art directors and production editors along the way. In those 20 years we’ve exploded beyond the mailbox; you can get Farm Futures intel on your phone or other mobile devices, in daily market reports, newsletters and blogs online, and in live events like the upcoming Farm Futures Business Summit.

The sharp farmers I’ve met along the way have been the secret sauce to our success. Some of my best stories came from riding in cabs, taking notes, and sharing your experiences with the world. Indiana Prairie Farmer editor Tom Bechman, one of the smartest editors on our staff, said recently, “There’s a story on every farm. You just have to listen.” And he is so right.

Change is rarely easy or simple, but when they’re lucky like me, you have a great leader step into the role you’re vacating so you can focus on the next chapter.

While you will no longer see my name on the back page of Farm Futures, I’m still planning to stay active as a journalist. How could I stop? So, while this transition is a done deal, don’t be surprised if my byline resurfaces somewhere in these pages or in one of our Farm Progress titles in coming days.

You can’t get rid of me that easily!

About the Author(s)

Mike Wilson

Senior Executive Editor, Farm Progress

Mike Wilson is the senior executive editor for Farm Progress. He grew up on a grain and livestock farm in Ogle County, Ill., and earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural journalism from the University of Illinois. He was twice named Writer of the Year by the American Agricultural Editors’ Association and is a past president of the organization. He is also past president of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, a global association of communicators specializing in agriculture. He has covered agriculture in 35 countries.

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