With the start of 2021, Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net are beginning a new chapter.
At its November meeting, Ohio Farm Bureau’s board of trustees voted to pursue the purchase of Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net radio and digital assets from owners Bart and Sheryl Johnson. After extensive due diligence, the sale closed Dec. 28, 2020.
“Both of these farm media outlets have a rich history of getting the most important, up-to-date news stories and information to Ohio’s agricultural community,” said Adam Sharp, OFBF executive vice president. “Bart, his wife, Sheryl, and their talented team have continued to grow the company into a trusted resource for their readers and listeners. We look forward to continuing that almost 50-year legacy.”
With the creation of Ohio Farm Bureau’s Strategic Partnerships department in 2019, Ohio Farm Bureau positioned itself to pursue new business opportunities such as this to allow the organization to bring in additional revenue outside of traditional memberships and partnerships to become an even stronger asset to those they serve for many years to come. The Johnsons were looking to phase out of the business in the next few years to focus on separate business ventures. Most notably, Bart is starting a pool construction business with his son and is really looking forward to it.
“When you think about the heritage of Ohio Farm Bureau and what they represent, there couldn’t be a better fit for the next chapter of OCJ and Ohio Ag Net,” Bart Johnson said. “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.”
Combined, these farm media entities reach a large farm audience of subscribers and nearly 70 Ohio Ag Net radio station affiliates throughout the state.
“The saying ‘If it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ applies here and the intention is to maintain and utilize the strengths of both Ohio Farm Bureau and the OCJ and Ohio Ag Net brands as they currently are,” Sharp said. “This will protect the integrity of our organization and allow us to continue to do what we do best while, at the same time, fully understanding that the integrity of the publication and radio network as a valued source for farm news and information must remain intact.”
The Johnsons will remain on full time for several months during the transition and will continue on a consulting basis after that. Dale Minyo will be taking over as general manager. All other Ohio’s Country Journal staff roles will remain exactly the same.