Jan 26, 2020
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Farm Journal, the largest national U.S. farm magazine, is a prime source of practical information on crops and livestock for farm families. Published 12 times a year, the magazine emphasizes agricultural production, technology and policy. As the flagship of Farm Journal Media, Farm Journal has a rich history spanning more than 130 years of service to U.S. agriculture, quality journalism and innovations in circulation technology.

Farm Journal was first published in March 1877 for farmers in the bountiful agricultural regions within a day’s ride of the publication’s office in Philadelphia. Founder Wilmer Atkinson was a Quaker, farmer and journalist who insisted that his publication disseminate commonsense information to farmers and their wives.

When Atkinson received approving letters from beyond the Middle Atlantic states, he began aggressively to seek national circulation. A publication that started with 25,000 copies grew to 1 million subscribers nationwide by 1915.

Over the past 133 years, Farm Journal has received innumerable awards for journalistic excellence, including a 2001 Oscar in Agriculture for a series of articles outlining solutions to the challenge of segregating genetically modified crops. In 1986, Farm Journal became the only farm magazine ever to win a National Magazine Award. The award recognized articles about the economic crisis faced by American farmers.

Farm Journal’s editorial excellence is defined by its mission to provide farm decision makers the best information and analysis on practical methods to improve and protect the profitability of production agriculture. In 2002 the magazine reached a milestone, celebrating 10 years of field test programs. Farm Journal Test Plots is a unique program conducted by Farm Journal editors in cooperation with farmers using on-farm conditions to research various agricultural production practices. Past test plots have involved planter attachments (row cleaners, closing wheels, seed firmers); the economics of site-specific farming; narrow-row corn; starter fertilizer; soybean populations; and planting performance (speeds, emergence and uniformity).

Farm Journal has been at the forefront of circulation innovations over the past half-century. Regional editions were launched in 1952. By restricting circulation in 1958 to people with an active interest in farming, Farm Journal shifted from being a rural consumer magazine to a business publication for farmers and ranchers.

As farmers became increasingly specialized, Farm Journal computerized its circulation information in the 1960s and began collecting data about the crops and livestock its readers produced. That enabled the company to publish sections within the magazine directed to specific livestock producers, beginning in 1962.

In 1982, when computer technology had become even more sophisticated, Farm Journal, in cooperation with printers R.R. Donnelley & Sons, became the first magazine in history to bind its issues electronically, thus customizing magazines based on readers’ crops, livestock, size and region. The May 1984 issue, for example, had 8,896 different versions.

In the mid-1980s, Farm Journal launched Top Producer magazine for large farms and converted the livestock sections into separate magazines. Those magazines are Beef Today and Dairy Today.