Ohio Farm Bureau buys Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net

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Frank Burkett, Adam Sharp
Ohio Farm Bureau President Frank Burkett (left) and Executive Vice President Adam Sharp speak at the annual meeting in December 2018. Ohio Farm Bureau purchased Ohio's Country Journal and its sister radio network Ohio Ag Net. (Farm and Dairy file photo)

Ohio Farm Bureau recently purchased agricultural newspaper Ohio’s Country Journal and its affiliated radio network, Ohio Ag Net.

The move is an effort for farm bureau to diversify its revenue stream, said Adam Sharp, executive vice president for Ohio Farm Bureau.

The acquisition was finalized Dec. 28. Ohio Farm Bureau declined to give details about the purchase.

Ohio Farm Bureau said its new ownership of the agricultural media company will not impact the outlet’s coverage. There will be little difference in the way things operate now, Sharp said.

“The saying ‘If it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ applies here, and the intention is to maintain the strengths of both Ohio Farm Bureau and Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net brands as they currently are,” Sharp said. “This will protect the integrity of both organizations and allow each of us to continue to do what we do best. 

“We fully understand that the integrity of the OCJ publication and the radio network as a valued source for farm news and information is of highest priority.”

The Ohio Farm Bureau board voted at its November meeting to pursue the purchase of the Agri Communicators Inc, the parent company of Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net, from owners Bart and Sheryl Johnson. Ohio Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm and food advocacy organization with about 85,000 members.

The company will be renamed Ag Net Communications LLC and will be run as a separate business.

Bart Johnson, also the publisher, said in a statement there couldn’t be a better fit for the future of the company than to partner with Ohio Farm Bureau.

“Continuing the legacy of my company is important but more important is having a partner who values and appreciates everything my team has accomplished and the ability for those folks to continue to serve Ohio’s agriculture community,” Johnson said in a statement.

The Johnsons will stay on to consult with Ohio Farm Bureau for the first few months of the transition, Sharp said.

According to the Ohio’s Country Journal website, the goal of Agri Communicators is to “provide the Ohio farming community the information they need to help make their farm profitable, while also providing an enjoyable and entertaining experience through our print, radio, and online offerings.”

The company was founded in 1972 by the late Ed Johnson, Bart Johnson’s father, and produced daily radio reports for ABN Radio Network and a weekly TV show, Agri Country.

It expanded in 1992 to include a monthly print publication, Ohio’s Country Journal, that eventually expanded its publication to twice a month. In 2007, the company added farm radio network Ohio Ag Net. The company is based in Columbus.

Sharp said Ohio Farm Bureau has been looking for ways to diversify revenue. After a “lengthy due diligence process” and evaluation of the company and the farm media space as a whole, the group moved forward with the purchase.

“The agreement to purchase Ohio Ag Net and Ohio’s Country Journal fits our criteria for revenue potential while being strongly aligned with our mission of serving Ohio agriculture,” Sharp said. 

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Rachel is a reporter with Farm and Dairy and a graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She married a fourth-generation beef and sheep farmer and settled down in her hometown in Beaver County. Before coming to Farm and Dairy, she worked at several daily and weekly newspapers throughout Western Pennsylvania covering everything from education and community news to police and courts.

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