NOTE: The date this blog was posted - April 1 - is in indication of the gravity and seriousness readers should have when viewing what follows. Enjoy!
It is with a blend of great sadness and shock and even some remorse and also a general dismay that Farm Progress Co. and Penton Media Inc. announce the retirement of veteran farm writer Tim White. White has been far and away one of, if not the, most admired ag-beat writers in the long and proud history of the company dating to 1845. His absence leaves a Grand Canyonesque gaping tear in the center of the most powerful publishing team ever assembled.
No official statement was available from management of the media giant. At corporate headquarters on Monday, H.R. staff seemed to searching their files and email inboxes in a bewilderment. The recent acquisition of Farm Progress Co. by Penton has brought about a number of recent changes in personnel.
White himself said he did not intend to quit working, just meeting deadlines. "I think I'm gonna be a forest ranger," he said.
White began his career with the Ohio Farmer in 1978 as an assistant editor. Growing up in suburban Willoughby Hills and Hudson, he is reputed to be the first non-farm-raised editorial employee in the history of agricultural magazine publishing.
After serving as associate and managing editor of Ohio Farmer, White put in a stint first as senior machinery and later senior farm management editor at Successful Farming in Des Moines. It was his diligence and perseverance and insight that pushed through the company's ADOPT 100 conference, which drew thousands of debt-strapped Midwestern farmers to Des Moines, Iowa, in a January 1986 snowstorm to learn more about alternative agriculture programs. He also claims to have named the company's famous Barn Again restoration program, but no has stepped forward to back him up, because it happened at a bar.
He then served as agri-business reporter at the Columbus Dispatch written the critically-acclaimed "Farm-To-Market" column thrice weekly. There a famous grizzled veteran photographer (known affectionately as Moose) periodically informed him with a voice resembling the affectionate bellow of bull moose, "White you will never be another Bill Zipf."
"Hey, I was honored be mentioned in the same sentence with legendary farm reporter Bill Zipf," White stated as he drove towards Montana.
A huge salary lured White from the Dispatch ranks in 1991 to be the editor of Ohio Farmer. He replaced his former boss Andrew L. Stevens, who went on to create his dream publication, "American Small Farm." Although White fired a number of popular columnists including the Country Parson, resilient readers continued to enjoy the magazine especially the famous cartoon "Slim, Tim and Orrie," the "Country Wife" column by Pat Leimbach and Gail Keck's stories.
White covered everything from the farm crisis of the mid-1980s, to the much-delayed Congressional action on just about every single farm bill ever written; from the multi-national consolidation of seed, chemical and equipment manufacturers to creation of payment-in-kind, CRP, GPS, LISA, WIC, ASCS, CFAES, Cry 1 genes and glyphosate. He has witnessed a couple of Droughts of the Century and no fewer than twenty 100-year Storms. He is fell from a couple of hay wagons, was bitten three times by dogs, stepped waist-deep in hog manure and even climbed onto a steel barn roof during a thunderstorm to photograph the structure's ornate lightning rods.
Although he is really old, he is reported to be having so much fun he can't hardly contain himself. "If it weren't for the pay check, I wouldn't know it was work," he said. Now that part is gone.