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Chicago Firm To Buy Farmer-Stockman Magazines Sale To Farm Progress Will Result In Loss Of 23 Local Jobs

Northwest Farmer-Stockman Inc., a Spokane-based publisher of agricultural magazines that date back 112 years, said Monday that it has agreed to sell the magazines to a Chicago company.

Farm Progress Companies Inc., publisher of 19 state farm journals, on May 31 will acquire Farmer-Stockman’s six magazines for an undisclosed price.

The deal boosts Farm Progress’ marketing reach into Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Wyoming and Utah. It also will result in the loss of 23 jobs.

Farmer-Stockman, a subsidiary of Cowles Publishing Co., which also publishes The Spokesman-Review, has retained a 20-year exclusive agreement to continue to sell insurance products to Farmer-Stockman subscribers.

“We feel fortunate to have these publications as part of our group,” said Allan Johnson, president of Farm Progress. “We’ll put our marketing clout behind the publications, but still be locally focused, concentrating on issues that affect farmers in that area.”

The six Farmer-Stockman magazines are: Inland Farmer, Pacific Farmer, Idaho Farmer, Montana Farmer, Utah Farmer and Western Beef Producer. Combined circulation is 86,404.

The sale throws 23 Farmer-Stockman employees out of work in editorial, advertising and circulation departments. The workers will receive severance benefits, and their duties will be handled by Farm Progress employees in Chicago and yet-to-be-established West Coast bureaus.

Farmer-Stockman’s 25 full- and part-time insurance employees and 65 independent insurance agents will not be affected, according to General Manager Mike Craigen.

Craigen said national advertising sales have waned in recent years, while sales of health and life insurance have remained strong.

“There’s not enough advertising dollars to support the kind of editorial product we wanted to put out,” he said. “We made a decision to grow the insurance business and be aggressive at that.”

Farmer-Stockman last year added 10 agents to its insurance force. In January, it launched efforts to sell group long-term care insurance. The company also sells accident, health and life insurance and annuities.

The Farmer-Stockman magazines trace their roots to a publication founded in 1884 when Washington was a still a territory. The Cowles family purchased the operation in 1915.

Farm Progress’ first contact with Farmer-Stockman was a year ago when it purchased the company’s Arizona Farmer magazine.

Under the new owners, the Farmer-Stockman format will be changed from a newsprint tabloid to slick magazine, Johnson said. Western Beef will discontinue as a stand-alone periodical, and will be incorporated inside the state magazines.

Farm Progress is owned by Capital Cities-ABC Inc., a unit of Walt Disney Inc. It also publishes Feedstuffs, Farm Futures and other national agricultural trade journals.

, DataTimes

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