Tips for farm newsletters
We all know the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.” In a tough economic environment, are you remembering to communicate with your farm’s key allies?
A newsletter is a relatively simple and time-saving way to keep in touch. A quarterly or semiannual synopsis of activity on your farm can be easy to compile, says Ann Johanns, Iowa State University Extension program specialist.
“In times of significant change, it could be crucial to maintaining the relationship,” Johanns says.
Written Record. For decades, cattlemen Tom and Matt Perrier of Dalebanks Angus in Eureka, Kan., have produced a biannual newsletter to promote the operation’s herd. The Flint Hills ranch runs 500 registered Angus females and sells about 200 bulls through private treaty and an annual auction.
“We still advertise in some outside publications, but that newsletter has been as powerful of a tool for us to get the word out about our program, what we have for sale and our philosophies,” Matt says.
He organizes and produces the newsletter, which features information beneficial for customers, happenings on the ranch and some outside perspective on the cattle industry. The newsletter has 900 recipients, including customers, other Angus breeders and partners.
First Steps. As you begin a farm newsletter, Johanns says, stick with what’s comfortable. “It can be colorful and technical with multiple pages, or it can remain simple and be a single page. It doesn’t have to be overly time consuming,” she says. Decide how frequently you will publish it, whether it will be distributed as a hard copy or a digital file and who will lead the project. It might also be helpful to download a sample newsletter or template.
For your mailing list, think broadly about who to add, such as your lender, off-farm family members and industry contacts. For young or beginning farmers, Johanns says, a newsletter can be a good opportunity to introduce your operation to potential landowners.
With your landlords, Johanns suggests including a section unique to each leasing relationship. Include yield information, fertility maps or land improvements. When sharing this information, highlight any details you consider confidential so they know it is for their eyes only.
Six Items Great Newsletters Include
Elements important to your operation should be included in your farm newsletter. Here are some tips you can follow to make it as beneficial to your stakeholders as possible, according to Ann Johanns, Iowa State University Extension program specialist.
Format: Use a readable font with clear and concise wording. Write in a friendly tone, and include photos of your farm and family.
Title: Don’t worry about being overly creative; pick a title for your newsletter that accurately reflects your operation.
Contact Information: List the basics, including any key contacts for your operation, and indicate the best way for people to reach you.
Content: Include what’s happening on the farm, an update on crop progress, pasture conditions or livestock development, as well as commodity prices and forecasts. An update on weather and how it has—or will—affect productivity is also helpful. Create an internal newsletter calendar for your team to plan out what you intend to share over time and when you plan to share it. Include a thank-you in the newsletter to your landowner, partners and others for the relationship.
Technology: For landowners without production-agriculture experience, talk about the technology you use. “Competition for land is significant, and communicating your approach could be beneficial,” Johanns says.
Upcoming Events: Share a general overview of the next few months’ happenings on the farm. Include any open houses or appreciation events you are hosting or any events your landlords or suppliers might want to attend, such as leasing meetings or field days.