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Faces of Agriculture: Barbara Glen

Updated: Jul 7, 2023

Endless learning through agriculture journalism

The agriculture world is fast-paced and changes can happen at the drop of a dime. Staying up to date on the latest ag news is crucial for anyone in the industry, especially for farmers and ranchers. Barbara Glen, a veteran agriculture journalist with 30 years under her belt and hundreds of ag-related articles in her arsenal, knows this all too well.

She kicked off her journalism career working with weekly newspapers in southern Alberta. Although Glen reported on all kinds of local news stories, ag-related stories were a prominent subject for weekly papers in rural southern Alberta.

“But it wasn’t until I joined The Western Producer that I became immersed in agricultural journalism,” says Glen.

“Since joining the Producer in 1993, it’s been all aggie, all the time.”

Glen’s agriculture roots began way before her career in journalism. She grew up in southern Alberta on a mixed operation farm where her family raised cattle and produced grain. At a young age, Glen knew how to run farm equipment and how to care for livestock. As a 4-H member, Glen raised cattle in the club’s market steer project, a program that provides youth with more in-depth knowledge and appreciation for livestock. Glen credits her strong work ethic to 4-H—it taught her that what you get out of a project equates to the effort you put into it, a way of thinking that she lives by to this day.

With deep family roots and extensive knowledge and experience with cattle, Glen was the perfect candidate for covering agriculture’s livestock industry. For nearly 20 years, she was the livestock editor for The Western Producer as well as managing the newsroom.

“Though it has been years since I’ve had to vaccinate cattle or persuade a calf to suckle an ornery cow, I’ve always enjoyed learning and writing about livestock, especially cattle,” says Glen.

“There is still some ‘Old West’ romance around the ranching lifestyle that appeals, and it’s full of interesting characters.”

During Glen’s time as livestock editor, she was still keen on learning about the other areas within agriculture. She set out to write stories on many other topics, such as crop production, ag politics, and agriculture’s relationship to nature. Through her reporting, Glen realized that in this industry, everything is connected—this realization bolstered her curiosity to explore all the intricacies of the agriculture world.

“The beauty of journalism is that you learn something every single day, and you can learn about agriculture by reporting on it, by reading about it, [and] by going out there and talking to farmers and ranchers,” says Glen.

Agriculture journalism plays a vital role for farmers—in this evolving industry, reliable and timely information can help them adapt and find success in agriculture. Ag-related news coverage is also valuable to people outside of the industry, especially with people becoming more interested in where their food comes from. But some coverage on the agriculture sector has led to inaccuracies, building unnecessary mistrust. This is where good journalism comes in—and according to Glen, good journalism never goes out of style for producers and consumers alike.

“I view agricultural journalism as a service to the agricultural industry. Its job is not to be an ‘agvocate,’ which is a recently coined term for those who promote the industry,” says Glen.

“No, our job in agricultural journalism is to tell it like it is, and let people make their own decisions about how or whether to use the information provided.”

For Glen, there is so much to explore with agriculture journalism. The ever-changing nature of the industry continues to feed her curiosity, and she learns something new every day. But sometimes new journalists are deterred from covering agriculture, because they have little first-hand experience with the industry.

“That should not be a hindrance. In this business, you learn as you go—and the longer you go, the more you learn. There might also be a perception among urban born-and-raised journalists that the ag sector is boring or backwards or uninteresting,” says Glen. “We know that’s not true. It’s a dynamic field with a lot of variety to explore and explain. My advice is to plunge in.”


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