Sweet Talk

Life of an Ag Editor

Published online: Apr 13, 2010 Feature Nancy Sanchez
Viewed 90 time(s)
I was recently asked by a close family member why I sometimes put in such long hours of work. Why, he asks do I spend so much of my time doing something for modest compensation. It is a genuine concern. And not easily answered. However, it is also a sort of calling in life that emerges as I try to put my daily experiences into words.


So how does one explain the purpose in one's heart? Explain beyond the physical actions of an ordinary ag editor as she sets out each day on an adventure into agriculture behind a desk. Equipped with a computer screen and telephone, writing pad and pen implements of the trade.

The world opens up and I envision the complex partnership of a family corp. where the grower I recently visited tells me how he started farming with his dad and four brothers 33 years ago. I learned that Paul Robertson lives 30 miles north of Paul, Idaho, in a sweet spot called Hidden Valley.

Together with his wife, Becky, they raised six children and now enjoy 13 grandchildren. Robertson has worked on the farm since he was a little boy. He started driving a tractor at age six, feeding livestock before and after school, moving water and whatever farm work needed done.

I chuckle and relate to the loving threats as I hear him tell me, "whenever something went wrong a swift kick in the butt with a size 12-boot and we were back on track again." How many times as a kid have we been goofing off on the farm and heard dad or mom coming after us to get back to work. And learn to work hard we did. No pansy tansy farm kid was set to leave this nest unless you learned how to get the job done right.

My dad used to tell us we were going to grow up right or not at all. Fair enough.

After raising six children I can proudly say my parents did a good job and we grew up right, according to their standards.

Yes, the life of an ag editor is more complex than what is seen on the surface, at least an editor that is employed at Harris Publishing. For it is a modest family owned and operated company. Each employee has unique responsibilities and duties nearly foreign to those working in a large corporation in a busy city setting.

In addition to the quaint infrastructure of this small company is the fact that it is situated in a reserved rural city in southeast Idaho, the heart of potato country. And at one time it was also a successful sugarbeet area, while beets are no longer the main crop the area does produce an abundance of crops such as grain, barley, potatoes and corn. It is a perfect location for an ambitious entrepreneur to publish magazines about the seasonal comings and goings of an agrarian legacy.


Thus the beginnings over 35 years ago of a publishing company that sought to provide helpful publications focused on agriculture and remains today. I am proud to say that I am the editor of The Sugar Producer, for it is a detailed magazine designed to provide sugarbeet growers the latest information in the industry. Collecting all the data that is used to create a readable and understandable book to read is quite an accomplishment.

I can honestly say that I look forward each day to do that work. It is much more than cranking out printed material that lands in your mailbox nine times a year.


As I strive to answer the why I do this idea, I am reminded that some things are difficult to put down in words. The English language is often lacking in describing thoughts or feelings that tend to hold ones' attention or life's work. As humans we can feel numerous emotions at the same time.

Just as a rainbow can mold and move with fantastic colors that have no definite lines or location, it cannot be touched physically and yet it can touch a human's heart.

Emotions are often what drive this editor's desire to work. It is a rainbow that I chase with each issue because I know the readers are looking for substance. And I like substance.