When my Grandpa Altvater, my mom’s dad, hitched up Buster and Barney — a team of work horses he broke himself — and set out for a day of cultivating, I’m sure he never imagined that one day this dusty and dirty workload would be replaced by a self-driving tractor with air conditioning and stereo. Or, his handwritten farm ledgers of revenue and expenses would be upgraded to self-computing electronic spreadsheets, and that yield monitors would tell precisely where he got it right and where crops struggled.
I was just a baby when he unexpectedly passed from an aneurysm, but my mom says he loved those horses and used them often, even after he had a tractor. He had three different teams of them over the years, and was one of the latter farmers to eventually sell them off. It was hard to let go.
In agriculture, like most businesses, we are constantly looking for ways to do the job better, more efficiently and more economically. Transitioning into something different is sometimes hard to accept, so I hope Ohio Farmer readers will embrace the new way we’re delivering the same features, news, columns and educational stories.
Starting in January, Ohio Farmer and Michigan Farmer magazines are combining with sister publication American Agriculturalist, which will expand its existing Northeast and mid-Atlantic region to include Michigan and Ohio. That doesn’t mean Ohio Farmer will cease to exist; it will continue to offer — as it’s done for several years now — all the same information published in print on the website at OhioFarmer.com. And, if you are signed up for our daily newsletter, Ohio Farmer Update, you will continue to receive Ohio and national ag stories every morning through email. This allows you to keep up on hot local topics, important national agricultural news and daily market commentary that can impact your operation. If you’re not signed up, I invite you to visit the Farm Progress e-newsletter sign-up page.
Since 1851, Ohio Farmer has served Ohio farmers and ranchers with information to help them maximize their productivity and profitability, while remaining environmentally conscious. Each issue has been packed with information, ideas, news and analysis.
So, why the decision to retire the print version? Ohio Farmer is part of a series of ag-related sister publications bought by the global company Informa four years ago. Informa is the largest exhibitions organizer in the world. With COVID-19 shutting down physical events, including the Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days, it’s caused the need to reconfigure — not unlike many other event-based businesses.
This move allows us to be more cost efficient, while still supplying you with a print publication offering Ohio articles and a new breadth of ag industry information.
Change is inevitable, and it brings on a gamut of emotions. Even though many farmers still prefer settling into the La-Z-Boy and licking their fingers to turn the pages, the next generation of farmers is relying more and more exclusively on digital information. By condensing our print publications, we’re still giving you that experience, while the online option provides real-time updates.
The switch to more digital-only information was already slowly taking root, but there’s no denying the pandemic has hyperaccelerated that move to a level not anticipated.
It is sad to see the masthead, which reads Ohio Farmer on the front cover, being retired. The only other time it stopped production in its 169-year history was Aug. 2, 1862, during the Civil War, when the issue announced, “On account of the war and hard times it is feared The Ohio Farmer must suspend publication until the war closes.”
Back then it was a weekly newspaper based out of Cleveland, and it wasn’t out of production long. The editor at the time, Thomas Brown, described his purpose in the first issue as doing “… all that we may be able to do to for the gratification, enlightenment and advancement of our readers.” His goal was to be “one of the best family newspapers in the United States, blending amusement with valuable instruction.”
As editor, I am not leaving, and my goals remain centered around Ohio Farmer’s early foundation.
We are exploring new ways to provide information while being the most efficient and economical as possible — a challenge all too familiar for many farmers.
Grandpa Altvater did not stop farming because management options were changing. It took him some time, but he eventually embraced the transition. My hope is that Ohio Farmer readers will do the same.