Editor’s Desk: ‘The news you need and stories you want’

Dear FERN reader,

Each day brings more startling revelations in Washington, from the EPA administrator’s questionable use of his office for personal projects to the USDA’s assault on the organic food industry — never mind the drumbeat of Trump headlines. In fact, there’s so much news that a recent Pew survey found that we’re getting weary of it all, ready to tune out.

At FERN, we help you manage the overload by keeping important food and ag stories front and center, but also by elevating, exploring, and revealing issues that too often are ignored in the nonstop political news out of Washington.

And we do that in partnership with some of the biggest media brands in the country. Consider these recent stories:

In Iowa farm country, where an unlikely Democratic political upstart — a former baseball player — is taking on a right-wing congressman; or the surprising attempt to address the pollinator crisis with a substitute bee for the embattled honeybee; or the story of how a small Kansas town has struggled to confront its decades-long problem of polluted drinking water.

In other words, we’re delivering stories that aren’t being told when the news is focused squarely on Trump.

At the same time, we provide a daily dose of policy and political news via FERN’s Ag Insider. We’ve kept you up to date on every twist and turn in the farm bill, the most important piece of food-and-farm legislation. We’ve covered the tick-tock of the farm-trade imbroglio, and kept tabs on grassroots opposition to industrial farm pollution.

This work costs money, something I am keenly aware of as we hit the halfway mark in our budget year. Outside of the national political sphere, it’s rare to find for-profit news businesses focusing on our style of expensive explanatory and investigative reporting. That’s why we do what we do. But now, there’s so much happening that we’re forced to make tough choices about our remaining resources – what we can afford to let go, and where we can be smarter in our spending. Because frankly, we cannot cover it all.

That’s where you come in. Charitable contributions are what allow us to do our work. Without your financial support, we wouldn’t have been able to hire Leah Douglas full-time to cover things like consolidation in the food and agro-chemical industries. Without your support, there was no way we could have paid Elizabeth Royte to explore the Midwest’s water crisis; or sent Brian Barth to see what Iowa farmers are thinking ahead of the looming midterm elections.

So please, consider a donationand to really help us, make it a monthly, recurring gift. We need to boost our editorial spending if we want to continue to deliver the news you need and the stories you want. So help us keep you better informed about food and farming in today’s complex world. Donate now.

Sam Fromartz
The Food & Environment Reporting Network

Photo Credit: Dennis Chamberlin