Farmers and ranchers faced a challenging year in 2019, with trade wars, fires and floods affecting crop and livestock producers across the United States. Rural Americans continued to work hard and move forward, though, and High Plains Journal shared the stories of some of those successes.
Although we can’t track the stories and opinion pieces in our print edition that readers shared with friends and neighbors or discussed at the breakfast table, website analytics give us a snapshot of what content struck a chord most with readers this year.
The most viewed and shared item on HPJ.com in 2019 was a column by Trent Loos, “Another one bites the dust.” In his Aug. 26 Loos Tales column, he shared his views about the Valley Oaks Steak Company’s decision to close down following controversy and legal battles over the company’s proposed expansion.
Field Editor Lacey Newlin’s May 13 column, “Small towns grieve together,” paid tribute to a beloved local farmer and highlighted his lasting influence on a small-town community.
The third most-viewed item in 2019 was Associate Editor Jennifer M. Latzke’s Jan. 21 feature, “HitchPin app could change the farm labor game,” which spotlighted an entrepreneurial farmer’s service-sharing smartphone app that brought the gig economy to farm country.
Beef cattle were the subject of many HPJ livestock stories this year, including Newlin’s profile of A Bar Ranch, Latzke’s overview of debates over Beef Checkoff spending and Editor Dave Bergmeier’s coverage of USDA’s investigation of beef pricing margins.
Copy Editor Jennifer Theurer’s feature on meat goats and Newlin’s profile of a sheep shearer with more than 40 years of experience were also popular with readers.
Water is of critical importance to farmers and ranchers, and Latzke shared their concerns about a Clovis dairy’s well contamination and the potential effects on the Ogallala Aquifer.
An Aug. 9 fire at the Tyson Fresh Meats plant near Holcomb, Kansas, had long-lasting effects on the beef industry, as Latzke reported.
Rural Americans face a critical need for expanded internet service, as Newlin discussed in a feature about recent U.S. Department of Agriculture’s high-speed broadband grants.
Shauna Rumbaugh highlighted the “brain gain” trend and the efforts of two sisters who returned home and launched a business for rural America.
Bergmeier and other HPJ staff followed the winter storms and devastating floods that hit Nebraska and other states in March.
Bergmeier wrote about the 50th anniversary celebration of American Implement. Other popular topics in 2019 covered a range of topics including the expansion of hemp markets, efforts to reduce feral pigs, a new vet school in Amarillo, Texas, and research on grain-free pet food.
HPJ’s contributing columnists and editorial staff provide regular commentary on the issues affecting agriculture. The top 10 most-viewed opinion pieces covered a range of topics of interest to rural Americans.
Loos Tales columns about President Donald Trump, cowboys, beer and animal welfare elicited a reaction among readers—whether they agreed or disagreed with Loos.
Retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods and trade wars with China were hot topics with producers in 2019. Maxson Irsik educated readers about Market Facilitation Program payments in a popular Managing for Success column.
Many readers could relate to Rumbaugh’s editorial about the closure of her small-town grocery store and the great loss to the community, as rural groceries across the country find it difficult to stay in business.
Jerry Nine’s Just a Scoopful column remains a reader favorite every week, and his column about an idea for a packing house cooperative was especially popular.
Rounding out the list was a bittersweet farewell from former HPJ Publisher and Editor Holly Martin, who moved on to a new position with American Angus Association after serving HPJ and telling the story of High Plains farmers and ranchers for 25 years.
What stories and opinions captured your interest this year? What topics should HPJ cover in 2020? Let us know!