I know this is not expected and I had several other words that I was going to use, but then I went to Amazon and realized that every one the suggestions for me was an agriculture-related book or movie. Growing up city, I had no clue about how much studying there was to do and how many incredible books and magazines there are about agriculture would have never expected that!
Reading Agricultural Magazines
My first “career job” was working for some farm magazines. I still remember thinking that it was unbelievable that there would be magazines about cotton and rice. Of course, it didn’t take long to understand how much these magazines deliver in terms of agricultural knowledge through sharing the stories of other farmers, extension specialists, marketing experts etc. You can read about the unique things happening right now due to weather, global supply and demand or studies that include thousands of data points and took years to conduct.
Some of the leading farm magazines include:
- Cotton Farming and Rice Farming magazines from One Grower Publishing. These are two of the very first publications I had a chance to get to know both as a reader and as a contributor and dear friends still work there.
- Cotton Grower is the long-time competitor to Cotton Farming and the website Cotton 24/7 delivers online content. It has a sister publication called Crop Life that focuses on agricultural retailers
- There are a number of weekly tabloids that always garner my attention: Delta Farm Press, Southeast Farm Press, Southwest Farm Press and Western Farm Press and they are now connected to the Farm Progress group of magazines too.
- Progressive Farmer was one of the first magazines I really respected outside of the ones I worked for and I still remember how Earl Manning was so nice as to give me credit when I worked with him on something. It was founded in 1886 so it has one hell of a history behind it.
- Farm Journal has been around a little bit longer even, starting in 1877 and had its roots in Pennsylvania.
Books I Recommend on Agriculture
This one is pretty tough, there are a lot of books that could be on this list and I’m going to keep it to a short list. These are books I have found helpful.
- “Hot Flat and Crowded” by NYTimes columnist Thomas A Friedman is a great read/listen. I think it’s the best statement of the current world situation I’ve seen in a long time. The role of the growing global middle class has some enormous challenges for agriculture and he discusses it fully in this book. A lot to learn here.
- I loved “Guns, Germs & Steel” and although the focus is history, the role agriculture — cultivating crops and domesticating animals — had in enabling development of civilization is incredible and the sections that address this still blow me away years after I read it.
- If you like cotton (I do) and world trade impacts you (dare you to say it doesn’t), you should read The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy. It is an interesting look at how globalization impacts things like a t-shirt with costs, labor, etc.
- The one I was overdue in reading was Tomorrow’s Table, written by Dr. Pam Ronald a biotech prof who’s husband is an organic farmer. They show that there are ways to talk about differences in agricultural production practices than others would lead you to believe.
- There is an awesome book produced by the International Cotton Advisory Committee called Cotton Facts. Yes, it is awesome for people like me who love cotton.
- My favorite reference book on cotton is really hard to find copies of, its The Cotton Foundation’s Cotton Physiology. The book was the first in a series of books on weed management, insects, etc. It has detailed drawings and lots more that leaves you turning the pages for hours (well at least if you are a cotton farming geek like me!)
- Next favorite reference book is Cotton Production Today written by my friends Stephanie & Kater Hake and Tom Kerby. This book is based on the input of dozens of cotton experts from the University of California. It’s awesome.
You can also see a great list of agriculture books on Ryan’s Agriculture Proud blog. I also have a post on the top farm books for kids and my friend Val has various farm books she recommends for kids too.
A Good Read Outside of Ag
The thing that drew me to the topic of reading was the recent reading material I have been absorbed by. It’s the book “Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies that Turn Customers into Fans” by Mack Collier, founder of #Blogchat. Yes, that’s the same Mack Collier who I have celebrated as a social media hero for creating the community of bloggers who provide each other encouragement, information, opinions and laughs each Sunday night.
While folks may not picture social media books as a key part of agriculture, it certainly has become a larger part. And I have to say I have been recommending it to several people and so far, I’ve only had positive reviews! I wrote up my own review of “Think Like a Rock Star” this weekend for Amazon. You should give it a read whether or not you work in agriculture or have direct knowledge of social media because it will help you “get it” much more clearly.
What reads do you recommend?
S, T, U…..
I’m still a day or two behind but I am really pretty proud of the A to Z series accomplishment. You can see the other posts in this series by clicking on the logo at right and reviewing the letters, or by browsing the A to Z ag tag archives.