Farm Journal Magazine

Farm Journal December 2020 cover

Farm Journal, the premiere U.S. farm magazine, is a prime source of practical information on crops, livestock and general agriculture for farm families. As the flagship of Farm Journal Media, Farm Journal has a rich history spanning more than 142 years of service to U.S. agriculture, quality journalism and innovations in circulation technology. 

Farm Journal was first published in March 1877 for farmers in bountiful agricultural regions within a day's ride of the publication's office in Philadelphia. Founder Wilmer Atkinson was a Quaker, farmer and journalist, who insisted that his publication disseminate common sense information to farmers and their wives. 

When Atkinson received approving letters from beyond the Middle Atlantic states, he began aggressively to seek national circulation. A publication that started with 25,000 copies grew to 1 million subscribers nationwide by 1915. 

Over the past 142 years, Farm Journal has received innumerable awards for journalistic excellence, including the 2005 Grand Neal, making it the only agricultural publication to ever win the award. The Farm Journal editorial excellence is defined by its mission to provide farm decision-makers the best information and analysis on practical methods to improve and protect the profitability of production agriculture. Since 1992, the magazine has conducted the Farm Journal Test Plot program. The plot program is a unique program conducted by Farm Journal editors in cooperation with farmers using on-farm conditions to research various agricultural production practices. Past test plots involved planter attachments (row cleaners, closing wheels, seed firmers); the economics of site-specific farming; narrow-row corn; starter fertilizer; soybean populations; and planting performance (speeds, emergence and uniformity). 

Farm Journal has been at the forefront of circulation innovations over the past half-century. Regional editions were launched in 1952. By restricting circulation to people with an active interest in farming in 1958, Farm Journal shifted from being a rural consumer magazine to a business publication for farmers and ranchers. 

As farmers increasingly specialized, Farm Journal computerized its circulation in the 1960s and began collecting data about the specific crops and livestock its readers produced. That enabled the magazine to publish sections within the magazine directed only to specific livestock producers, beginning in 1962. 

In 1982, when computer technology became increasingly sophisticated, Farm Journal, in cooperation with printers R.R. Donnelley & Sons, became the first magazine in history to bind its issues electronically, thus customizing magazines based on readers' crops, livestock, size and region. The May 1984 issue, for example, had 8,896 different versions. 

In the mid-1980s, Farm Journal launched Top Producer magazine for large farms.

Farm Journal continues its culture of innovation and advocacy for farmers with the Farm Journal Legacy Project, a comprehensive nationwide effort to help farm families with succession planning for their operations.