Production Blog

Chance to Expand Your Voice

Pamela Smith
By  Pamela Smith , Crops Technology Editor
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Farmers Reid Thompson of Colfax, Illinois, and Ryan Jenkins, of Jay, Florida, reported on crop conditions and agricultural topics throughout the 2020 growing season as part of DTN's View From the Cab series. (Photos courtesy of Reid Thompson and Ryan Jenkins)

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) -- Meetings and chances to gather weren't in the cards for 2020, but I had a front-row seat to the farming season.

Every Monday morning, I talked to Ryan Jenkins and Reid Thompson. By Tuesday, I had written up a snapshot of what was happening in their world and weaving the subject of the week to the world around them. By Wednesday, the farmers had proofed the copy for posting.

At DTN, we call this weekly series View From the Cab. It allows us the opportunity to delve deeper into the many aspects of daily farm life than a typical news story and to follow up on what happened over time. In total, we featured Thompson and Jenkins in 34 news stories from May through December in 2020.

Something special happens with our View From the Cab participants. Because we are talking to them so frequently, they start to become good observers and reporters. So, some of their thoughts occasionally guide us to other important snippets of information. These observations tend to wiggle their way into articles, even if their name is not always attached.

Talking to farmers has always made this job special to me. This year, View From the Cab, did more than that -- these two farmers kept me grounded and gave me something to look forward to each week. Ironically, Jenkins and Thompson told me the same thing. That Monday morning call became something we could depend on in this odd, funky, crazy, frustrating, confusing and whatever else you want to call it year.

We didn't even need a pandemic to toss curve balls. We waited for rain, we wished it away, and we watched it wash away crops. There were many, many hurricanes and a derecho. We celebrated family events and worried when a dog got hit in the shop driveway. We talked about how to balance family and farm and volunteering. We learned about peanuts, cotton, corn, soybeans, wheat and cover crops. We talked about the best snacks to stock the cab and how to farm over long distances with lousy connections. Farmland prices, land rents, labor availability and safety tips were in there. Yes, we even discussed politics and farm policy.

And, we never ran out of things to talk about -- imagine that!

View From the Cab has been a DTN feature since 2005. Every year I say that I can't imagine next year being better than this one, but somehow there are always new twists and turns.

I'm not sure what to hope for in 2021, but this is a call for volunteers. There are no hard-and-fast rules to our selection process. It often boils down to a good mix of geography and crops.

Here's how it works: Simply email me a note (pamela.smith@dtn.com) telling me why you want to be a View From the Cab contributor and a little bit about your farm. Don't worry about having a view -- I guarantee you we will find plenty to cover.

A big thanks to Reid Thompson and Ryan Jenkins for letting the world into your cab so we can see your world and your hearts. You join a great group of farmers. Here are our past View From the Cab contributors:

2020: Ryan Jenkins, Jay, Florida; Reid Thompson, Colfax, Illinois

2019: Ashley Andersen, Blair, Nebraska; Scott Wallis, Princeton, Indiana

2018: Kyle Krier, Claflin, Kansas; Genny Haun, Kenton, Ohio

2017: Zack Rendel, Miami, Oklahoma; Brent and Lisa Judisch, Cedar Falls, Iowa

2016: Chase Brown, Warrensburg, Illinois; Jim Hoover, Newport, Pennsylvania

2015: Lane Robinson, Cromwell, Indiana; Leon Kriesel, Gurley, Nebraska

2014: Karen and Bill Johnson, Avoca, Iowa; Jamie Harris, Madison, Florida

2013: William "Shep" Sheppard, Louisiana, Missouri; Kane Bercaw, Union City, Michigan

2012: Katie Sanger Hancock, Water Valley, Kentucky; Ryan Brodersen, Randolph, Nebraska

2011: Tom Tibbits, Minneapolis, Kansas; David Brandt, Carroll, Ohio

2010: Becton Bell, Wilson, Arkansas; Frank Zweber, Hoven, South Dakota

2009: Marcus Hess, Bushnell, Illinois; Matt Wolle, St. James, Minnesota

2008: Dan Pedersen, Underwood, Iowa; Brad Lindstrom, Varna, Illinois

2007: Matt Rush, Fairfield, Illinois; Jason Heijl, Abbott, Texas

2006: Bob Worth, Lake Benton, Minnesota; Keith Miller, Great Bend, Kansas

2005: Richard Oswald, Langdon, Missouri; Mark Rasumssen, Hoagland, Montana.

Pamela Smith can be reached at pamela.smith@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN

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