Journalist: Learning about ag builds farmer trust and stronger stories

By Mary Hookham for PPF

News reporter Tim Kowols has learned a lot about agriculture over the years.

Water quality issues, ag-related careers, cover crops and efficiencies in the dairy industry are just a few of those aspects, he told attendees at the Peninsula Pride Farms 2020 conference and annual meeting on Feb. 13.

Kowols, who works for in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., has also noticed that agriculture seems to be treated differently than other industries at times.

“When other industries expand, the public is excited, but when farmers grow their businesses, the public questions the cost of that growth,” he said.

Kowols explained that knowledge is power in his profession. After learning about new technologies like robotic milkers and bark bed liners, he feels better equipped and more confident to do his job. He is more easily able to find the multiple layers in the topics he’s writing about and be more in touch with farmers. Positivity, accuracy and understanding are keys to the work, he said.

“In a negative story situation, we try to find a positive spin. Or we ask, ‘What did we learn from this?’”

Kowols, who is also a sales representative, continues to meet new farmers to learn about the latest farm practices. He strives to spread the word that media is not the enemy of the agricultural community.

“We are not trying to get anybody,” he said. “We just want to get the story right the first time and assure farmers that they can trust us.”

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