About Western Ag Reporter
Interestingly, our history starts in Spokane, Washington, where the first issue of Western Livestock Reporter (WLR)—dated September 6, 1940—was only eight pages long, and a subscription could be had for $1/year. Its publisher and editor was Norm Warsinske, and its offices were located in the Old Union Stockyards. While WLR was established "to supply an accurate weekly source of information" about the commercial cattle markets of Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Wyoming, it was soon learned that the growing purebred industry of the Northwest was not being served by any publication so WLR entered the field of purebred news and promotion.
By the seventh issue of the fledgling paper, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had been elected President for the third time. Those were tough years, and the December 18, 1940, issue of the paper was only four pages long! Beginning with the January 15, 1941, issue, Warsinske started writing a weekly front-page column called "Comments."
Without any fanfare, in the December 2, 1941, issue, a second address was listed in Billings, Montana, and it wasn't long until Warsinske and his paper moved lock, stock, and ink to Billings. The war years seriously affected the size of the paper; during 1943 and the first half of 1944, almost every issue was but four pages long, and it wasn't until October 1945 that 10 pages were used to tell the news!
One of the paper's most popular writers, Bill Huntington, started writing a regular weekly column in April 1952. The column, which was originally titled "Bill Huntington Spins A Tale," still runs today, although its name has been changed to "Treasures from Bill's Warbag."
In February 1957, Norm Warsinske added 26-year-old Pat Goggins to his WLR fieldmen, and it's safe to say that no one could have foretold what the future held—for either the man or the paper! One cannot place too much emphasis on the opportunity that suddenly presented itself when, five issues after Pat joined the WLR team, his "As I See It" column—and his slot as spokesman for the ag industry—were launched simultaneously on the second page of the March 20, 1957, issue. That first column started with the word "optimism" … and that quality was one of the most valuable traits Pat brought on a weekly basis to his growing audience of producers.
In April 1961, Pat quite literally promoted himself out of his fieldman job by the expedient method of buying the next chair up! In other words, he purchased the paper and became its publisher. His "As I See It" column appeared on the front page of the April 12, 1961, issue… and there it stayed for better than 54 years.
In August 1968, responding to a need for news of a more general agricultural nature as well as for a venue for local advertisers, Pat started a second paper. Initially called The Farm Livestock Weekly, this new publication—soon known simply as Agri-News—catered more to general ag operations, those raising commercial cattle, wheat, hogs, and sheep.
Pat's twin sons Joe and John graduated from college in June 1989 and joined the family enterprises—Joe joined the PAYS staff, while John became part of the WLR staff. After John had been on board for five years, the "Comments" title, used by Norm Warsinske for 20 years, was dusted off and put to work once again with John as its new author beginning with the January 26, 1994, issue of WLR.
The years rolled by, and all of Pat's enterprises grew—his children, his businesses, his papers. Fast forward to September 2008—WLR was 68 years old, and Agri-News, 40. The cost of putting out two papers—postage, printing, and labor—had steadily and relentlessly increased; in addition, we had a significant number of readers that subscribed to both papers. So we took a deep breath and made a big decision: as of October 1, 2008, all of our readers—WLR and Agri-News readers alike—received in their mail boxes the first issue of Western Ag Reporter. With a new look came the best of both papers.
With the new paper, John assumed additional responsibilities as General Manager. To occupy the editor's chair and to ride herd on the weekly news, Linda Grosskopf, a former Agri-News editor (1995-2005), was brought back on board.
On December 31, 2015, Pat Goggins crossed the Great Divide, and his "As I See It" column was retired. Pat's son John took a long step up and became the paper's publisher, and his "Comments" column began running on the front page with the January 14, 2016, issue.
Western Ag Reporter is the best read ag publication in the West; our predominance covers the 14 Northwestern states, and we are proud to say that we are read coast to coast and border to border, as well as in a number of foreign countries. We are well known for "telling it like it is," a trait seldom seen in this politically-correct, advertiser-driven world. We value our readers and welcome their input. We strive 24/7 to be "the only weekly a busy rancher needs to read."