When I was hired by Farm Press in October 2017, the company first flew me to its headquarters in Clarksdale, Miss., for training and introductions. As I walked the halls and visited with my new coworkers, while I knew there was something special about Farm Press and its history in reporting agriculture, I had no idea of the depth.
The Farm Press family is a bit like our farmers who have farmed the same land for generations, raised their kids there, and never left. And just as our farmers have witnessed the progression of technological advances on the farm, from driving cab-less tractors to the comforts of air conditioning and the accuracy of GPS, the same can be said of our Farm Press veterans.
From lugging a typewriter up flights of stairs to a hotel room to write a feature about a farmer they had just interviewed and using snail-mail to submit their typed copy for print, to typing on a laptop, hitting send and their article being received or posted within seconds, they’ve witnessed major changes.
Longevity has a way of creating perspective, but also trust — neither of which can be taught or bought. Of all that I saw and heard that day, the longevity of its employees struck me the most, and confirmed I had made the right decision.
Within the Clarksdale office is Glen Rutz, managing editor of Southeast Farm Press. Glen has been with Farm Press the longest of anyone on the staff, 47 years. Sandy Perry, managing editor for Western Farm Press and Southwest Farm Press, has been with the company 43 years and raised a second generation; her daughter Slate Canon is now our digital products editor. Kathy Jordan, handles all the paperwork related to billing. In Human Resources is Ann King, who has 39 years at Farm Press. Darrah Pierce is marketing manager; Cindy Hubbard is ad sales manager; Baker Patton is ad account executive; Taylor Armstrong is ad account excecutive, and Sherry Cook is office receptionist.
Down the hall, is Ed Phillips, Delta Farm Press’s managing editor, who has worked for the publication for 41 years; while in Tennessee, is Ron Smith, best known in this area for his years as editor of Southwest Farm Press, who has 40 years with the company and is now senior content director for Delta, Southeast, Western, and Southwest Farm Press publications. Rounding out the Clarksdale-based editorial staff are David Bennett, associate editor,25 years, and staff writer Brad Robb, the newest member at one year.
Retired Farm Press are Forrest Laws, who had 37 years, and Calvin Pigg, former Southwest Farm Press editor, who had a 44-year career with the publication. Cindy Hubbard is ad sales manager, Baker Patton
And then there is Hembree Brandon, Farm Press editorial director, who recently announced his retirement after 45 years. Southwest readers have likely not seen him but benefitted from his editorial expertise. He is Farm Press’s editorial director. He edits my copy, humors my mistakes (all the while gritting his teeth), and sorts through my endless photos because I have a difficult time choosing just one. He will be dearly missed.
The legends of Farm Press, I call them. They are not fake news nor the faint at heart, but a staff with a rich history of dedication to telling the story of the American farmer for generations past and those to come.