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Ozarks Farm & Neighbor to debut Sept. 1

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

A new farming publication is hoping to harvest a big readership this fall.

Ozarks Farm & Neighbor will publish its debut issue Sept. 1, according to Stan Coffman, president, publisher and founder of the new publication. Coffman is former vice president of marketing for the Springfield Business Journal.

The tabloid-size newspaper, which will focus on issues germane to farming families in the Ozarks, will publish 17 times a year and will be mailed to farmers in a nine-county area in southwest Missouri.

"It will be sent to everyone who owns livestock and poultry in most cases," Coffman said.

Livestock includes cows, horses and sheep, but not exotic animals like emus or ostriches, Coffman said. The initial mailing will be to 13,000 homes, though Coffman said the publication's circulation will be more than that once it gets going.

"There are more than 13,500 livestock owners in the area, so we expect to expand the circulation pretty quickly," Coffman said.

Coffman has assembled a team to help him put the publication together and will use freelancers to gather photos and news for it.

Joann Pipkin, who was the farm director at KTTS radio, will be the editor of Ozarks Farm & Neighbor.

Frank Farmer, a former Springfield News-Leader editor, will be the editorial page editor and Jerry Crownover, who writes an agricultural column for the News-Leader, will be a columnist for the publication.

Coffman will handle ad sales for now, and Matt McCroskey, a local graphic designer, will take care of ad design and news layout.

The staff members all have ties to farms themselves, Coffman said.

"I wanted this to be a publication about farming, and I wanted it to be coming from people who knew the industry and loved it," Coffman said.

The publication's content will focus on the people in the nine Missouri counties it serves.

"I don't want to have textbook-type stuff. I want this to be about farming families, with focuses on local agricultural groups like FFA and 4-H, and spotlights on agricultural businesses," Coffman said.

The publication will also contain comprehensive market information, on both large markets and some of the smaller markets that are not always covered, Coffman said.

There is room for a publication like this, Coffman said, because there are very few farming publications that are so geographically focused.

"When you look at the larger publications out there, they are going into 89 counties in five or six states, yet they have around 13,000 to 14,000 circulation. We're going to have that kind of circulation right here in nine counties," Coffman said.

The first issue will probably have 24 to 28 pages, with color on the front page. Though the first issue is being mailed out free, Coffman said he will ask for voluntary subscriptions, the rate for which will be about $9 per year.

Coffman said there is room in the Springfield area market for more agricultural coverage.

"Most everybody I've talked with has said there is not enough coverage of local agriculture. No one is really focusing on that right now," Coffman said.

Putting this project together will help him focus both on what he likes and what he knows, Coffman said.

"I've been in newspapers nearly all my career, since 1967, and I thought this was a chance for me to take something I know and put it with something I like and make a profession out of it," Coffman said.

Coffman started his career in media with the Lebanon Daily Record in 1967, then moving on to Springfield Newspapers and to USA Today. His job immediately prior to starting the new publication was at SBJ. A Lebanon native, Coffman's family's farm is still in Lebanon.

"I've grown up with agriculture, and I've always enjoyed working with the people who were involved with it."[[In-content Ad]]

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