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As IFB has changed, The Hoosier Farmer has changed, too

—By Kathleen M. Dutro
Publications Managing Editor
Indiana Farm Bureau

What’s in a name? In the case of The Hoosier Farmer, a lot of history.

When Indiana Farm Bureau was in the process of being born, the organization’s newly elected leaders considered communicating with the membership to be essential. Within three months of the first state meeting in March 1919, the association – originally called the Indiana Federation of Farmers’ Associations – had published its first issue of a statewide magazine, then called The Organized Farmer.

 That was in June 1919. By the time the second issue came out in August of that year, the new publication had been renamed The Hoosier Farmer (Organized).

Although The Hoosier Farmer has always been a part of Indiana Farm Bureau, the publication has evolved over the decades as the organization, the membership and publishing have changed.

When it was first published, only farmers were eligible for membership and therefore virtually all of its readers were farmers. Starting in 1948, when IFB began accepting non-farmers as members, the percentage of associate members grew and by the late 1950s or early 1960s had overtaken the number of voting members. Membership is currently around 275,000 total members, of whom around 75,000 are farmer members.

The shifting demographics of the membership have been reflected in the content of the publication. At times, such as in Farm Bureau’s infancy, the publication devoted much of its space to organizational matters such as IFB elections and lobbying at the state and national level. But while these issues remained important, the magazine gradually opened itself up to more general coverage of farm and rural issues, and it started to show a lighter side with stories about 4-H, photos of cute children and recipes.

From 1987 into early 1990, IFB experimented with The Hoosier Farmer as a newspaper instead of a magazine. During that period, all members received a magazine called Hoosier Life while voting members received a tabloid-size newspaper (similar to the current size of the publication) called The Hoosier Farmer.

When The Hoosier Farmer was reborn as a magazine in 1990, the editors and writers offered an eclectic selection of articles, features and columns, some clearly aimed at voting members and others just as clearly aimed at associate members.

In 2010, IFB again changed its publications in order to better serve its members. Our newest magazine, My Indiana Home, began landing in the mailboxes of both voting and associate members in October 2010. Meanwhile, with this newest incarnation of The Hoosier Farmer, which deputed in September 2010, Indiana Farm Bureau returns the publication to its original purpose: Communicating with the voting member.