Twenty years ago, staff from Farm & Ranch Guide started a new publication, Minnesota Farm Guide.
Vol. 1, No. 1 reached farmers’ mailboxes on Friday, May 17, 2002.
It wasn’t a promising time to start a new farm paper.
The U.S. was still trying to figure out what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, and that was affecting the economy.
The average monthly Midwest price for corn in 2002 was $2.05 per bushel, and for soybeans the average price was $4.86. Carcass weight prices for hogs were about $50 per hundredweight. Milk prices had dropped after a good run for dairy farmers between 1996-2001. U.S. beef supply and demand changed rapidly following the announcement of a BSE case in Japan in September 2001.
Farm & Ranch Guide staff recognized the challenges, but they also could see how well a Minnesota farm publication would fit in with their North Dakota/northwest Minnesota publication, as well as sister-publications, Tri-State Neighbor based out of Sioux Falls, S.D., and The Prairie Star, serving Montana and Idaho.
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A strong leadership and publishing team in Bismarck, N.D., plus knowledgeable advertising and editorial staff went ahead with their efforts. They found fantastic advertisers, readers, farmers, agribusiness, and educators that were willing to give Minnesota Farm Guide a chance.
The timing was right with digital-related technology about to make giant strides into many aspects of farming life. Minnesota Farm Guide was an early adapter into the changing world of digital communications, and that helped the publication succeed by reducing traditional farm publication costs.
Fast forward 20 years and Minnesota Farm Guide continues to arrive in farmers’ mailboxes every other week. Digital content in many different forms is also generated and sent to Minnesota Farm Guide readers.
All told, there are now 14 partners/publications in the Lee Agri-Media brand, and AgUpdate.com serves as the portal for all the digital publications.
The decision to start Minnesota Farm Guide 20 years ago worked out well.
In celebration of 20 years, we are looking back at a few of the events and seasons we’ve been through together:
Farmers are learning to use yield monitors and studying Global Positioning Systems (GPS). Sales of tractor auto steering take off in 2003 for tillage and stalk chopping. GPS accuracy in the fields is about 3 feet.
Minnesota cropland sells for $1,500-$1,745 per acre, and average rent for cropland is $81 per acre.
Minnesota farmers plant 44 percent of their corn acres to varieties with biotech traits.
The Minnesota Legislature approved the addition of 2 percent biodiesel into most of Minnesota’s diesel pool. The mandate requires at least 8 million gallons of annual biodiesel capacity constructed in Minnesota.
Twitter and Facebook are introduced, and the term “social media” is defined.
The USDA celebrates its 150th anniversary. The Department of Agriculture was signed into legislation by President Abraham Lincoln on May 15, 1862.
Minnesota cropland sells for $4,917-$5,090 per acre, and average rent for cropland is $151 per acre.
Farmers and companies work together to unify technologies. Using several monitors at once in the tractor cab becomes common to control various implements and technologies. Accuracy becomes sub-inch in the field using high-priced RTK equipment and subscriptions. Farmers recognize they can save on fuel, chemical, and seed costs with precision farming.
Minnesota farmers plant 88 percent of their corn to varieties with biotech traits – 47 percent include stacked traits. Farmers here plant 91 percent of their soybean acres with biotech traits.
Cash price for corn in west central Minnesota is $5.77 for corn, and $13.60 for soybeans on May 11, 2012.
By 2012, over 60 million gallons of biodiesel are produced here.
Digital technology has moved to mobile phones. The iPhone was introduced to the market in 2007, as a phone and internet communicator. Android smart phones joined in, too, and changed the world.
By 2020, the iPhone 12 Pro Max offered: 128GB, 256GB, and 512 GB of storage. Developers discovered they needed strong cases to make the phones resistant to breaking. Terms like “bionic chip and 5G networking” are now used. Mobile phone cameras take photos almost as good as traditional digital cameras. Phone video works well, too, and users can livestream events straight to YouTube or Facebook, as well as Twitter, Twitch, TikTok and Instagram to name a few.
Minnesota cropland sells for $5,205-$5,320 per acre, and the average rent for cropland is $163 per acre (MN Ag Statistics, Aug. 2020).
With the announcement of COVID-19 in March 2020 a shelter-in-place mandate closed most public places and hurried the development of social media and virtual communication. Vaccines were quickly developed, and by April 27, 2022, the U.S. was no longer in the full-blown pandemic phase.
Records from 2020 indicate the U.S. produced 1.8 billion gallons of biodiesel, with Minnesota producing about 74 million gallons of biodiesel.
Cash price for corn in west central Minnesota is $7.91 per bushel for corn, and $16.38 for soybeans on April 27, 2022.
Soil health, soil regeneration, and cover crops are all popular buzz words that farmers and educators are using as they work toward increasing organic matter and continually improving yields. Soil conservation and top-quality animal husbandry are always top-of-mind for farmers and ranchers in 2022.
Thank you to our advertisers, readers, and farmers for the opportunity to partner with you in agriculture!