4 Covering Agriculture: Resources and Sourcing

Here are a list of resources to aid in your coverage of agriculture-related topic.

People to talk to

To cover the agriculture beat with precision, you have to develop rich sources. Here are a few groups you should be chatting with frequently.

  • Farmers, especially as spring planting approaches in May and June, and at harvest in October and November. Catch them over winter in the north, for long-term projects. They’ll have more time.
  • Farm groups
  • Environmental groups
  • University researchers , especially when they release new, peer-reviewed studies.
  • Economists

Scanning the Web

It’s important to check agriculture-related websites frequently. Below are sites to make sure you bookmark.

  • CropLife International – industry group that offers information on pesticides and other chemical use, plus developments in biotech and seeds.
  • Chicago Board of Trade – for crop prices, grain futures, other news.
  • National Cotton Council – a one-stop shop for industry news.
  • Environmental Working Group – nonprofit organization that has analyzed federal payments to farmers, showing that a small share get the bulk of the aid.
  • North American Agricultural Journalists – an association of farm editors and writers, runs an annual contest and an annual conference.
  • Society of Environmental Journalists – resources for staff journalists and freelancers, including huge topical index of sources, a member listserv offering advice on deadline, an elaborate website with resources even for nonmembers, and an annual conference that often examines agricultural issues.

Developing a library of resources

Find your favorite reading chair and cozy up with one of these agriculture books. This reading list will ensure you have a solid grasp of key topics.

  • The Meat You Eat: How Corporate Farming Has Endangered America’s Food Supply, by Ken Midkiff.
  • Farm, by Richard Rhodes
  • Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan
  • Three Farms, by Mark Kramer
  • Fateful Harves, by Duff Wilson
  • CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations): The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories, edited by Daniel Imhoff Watershed Media
  • The Agrarian Vision: Sustainability and Environmental Ethics, by Paul Thompson.
  • Foodfight: The citizen’s guide to a food and farm bill, by Daniel Imhoff
  • Raising a Stink: The Struggle over Factory Hog Farms in Nebraska, by Carolyn Johnson
  • The Economics of Food: How Feeding and Fueling the Planet Affects Food Prices, by Patrick Westoff
  • Against the Grain, by Richard Manning
  • Grassland, by Richard Manning
  • Food Fray, by Lisa Weasel
  • Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser
  • Long Deep Furrow: 3 Centuries of Farming in New England, by Howard S. Russell, Mark Lapping
  • Cadillac Desert, by Marc Reisner
  • Hole in the Sky, by Bill Kittredge
  • Parsnips in the Snow, by Mary Swander
  • Where Our Food Comes From – Retracing Nikolay Vavilov’s Quest to End Famine, by Gary Paul Nabhan
  • Chasing Chiles – Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail,  by Kurt Michael Friese, Kraig Kraft, Gary Nabhan


Beat Basics Copyright © 2011 by Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism. All Rights Reserved.


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