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Mikkel Pates/Agweek

What's a "good" ag story?

What's a "good" Agweek story?

That's a topic that came up with one visitor to the Agweek booth at the Big Iron Farm Show in Fargo, N.D., recently. It's a topic I think about a lot. Some people said they like our investigative stories or the ones that unveil some new technology or raise a concern that people should know about.

When your public brand is Agweek, you're going to be interested in the prosperity of agriculture. You'll want to see it succeed economically, but also culturally and ethically. Many of our subscribers and viewers are in agribusinesses — input, service and finance suppliers — but the bulk are farmers of all descriptions.

Agribusinesses have a voice. Politically active farmers have a voice. Agweek covers both, of course. I think our farm organizations are vital to moving ag policy, but there are clues that many have taken too much media training. (Clue: If you hear an interviewee respond to a journalist by mechanically, repeatedly saying, "That's a GREAT question," they've likely taken the training.)

For more than a decade, Agweek has made it a high priority to listen to ordinary farmers of all stripes — big, small, organic and high-tech.

One of the branded techniques is called the CropStop. We stop randomly to show what's going on in the country and ask for an on-the-spot interview, without an appointment. Sometimes farmers can take the time, sometimes they can't.

These days, a CropStop is a bit more involved than it used to be. With AgweekTV, it means we have haul the audio and video gear around and convince busy farmers to take a few minutes to talk to us.

Most do.

Some don't.

Curiously, many who say no are happy to tell me that they watch and read CropStops — one of their favorite things. But why is that? I think it's because it's a true and real window in the happenings of ordinary farmer brethren in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Montana.

That's more important than you think. There is an emerging realization that farmers have gotten out of touch with each other and non-farmers. A CropStop is a simple, unassuming way to let the world know how you do things and how they are going — what's on a farmer's plate, and what they're happy or concerned about. When your intrepid CropStop correspondent visits your farm, please consider the value of saying yes. It might be the best time investment you'll ever make, and you might enjoy it.