These days, everyone wants to know more about the food they eat: who grew it? how? where?
The Georgia Farm Monitor has been telling those stories for nearly 50 years. It’s the only news and information television program dedicated to Georgia’s largest and No. 1 industry – agriculture.
The Farm Monitor has been on the air for nearly a half-century, telling the story of Georgia agriculture. Georgia’s climate, fertile soil and abundant water create tremendous opportunities for farmers. Virtually any crop or animal can be grown successfully somewhere within the state. Georgia is known for its sweet peaches, peanuts, signature Vidalia onions, pecans, poultry, cattle and blueberries.
Telling the Farmer’s Story
The Farm Monitor is proud of the agricultural diversity in Georgia, and the show’s reporters focus on farming and the rural lifestyle. They take viewers behind the scenes to meet the men and women who work tirelessly to feed Georgians, the nation and the world.
“There’s plenty of variety for us to cover, and we think that adds to the show’s appeal,” says executive producer Andy Lucas. “We want to tell the farmers’ story each week. We want to show viewers how agriculture has become more efficient despite burdensome regulations and unpredictable weather. That by using the latest technology, the American farmer grows safer, healthier better tasting food on less land with fewer inputs and people,” he says.
Based in Macon, the Farm Monitor staff travels the state, the Southeast and other parts of the country to cover stories of interest to farmers and consumers. While the program focuses on agriculture with the Georgia and Southeastern farmer in mind, national ag issues, consumer information and interesting feature stories about rural life and people are also part of the show each week.
50 years and Going Strong
The Georgia Farm Monitor has a long history, dating back to 1966, and is produced by the state’s largest general farm organization – the Georgia Farm Bureau.
Initially, the Farm Monitor began as a joint production between Georgia Farm Bureau and WMAZ-TV in Macon. Its purpose was to provide farmers in central and south Georgia with the news and information they needed for their operations. At that time, it was called the Georgia TV Monitor and was hosted by John Johnson.
Johnson was also hosting a radio show about Georgia agriculture called the Georgia Radio Monitor.
Jimmy Lee took over as host of the show in May 1967, and two years later the name was changed to Georgia Farm Monitor.
In 1978, the show began airing on a network of stations across the state including Macon, Albany, Atlanta, Columbus and Savannah.
“It had been a joint effort between WMAZ and Georgia Farm Bureau,” Lee says. “I thought it might be something other stations might want. And they really did.”
Also in 1978, with the show and staff growing, production moved to dedicated facilities in the Georgia Farm Bureau state headquarters building in Macon.
A spin-off show, The Georgia Farmer, began airing in 1983. That program aired for three years on Georgia Public Television. In 1985, Steve Malone took over producing and hosting duties, a position he held until he retired in 2002.
At that time, news and information wasn’t always readily available for farmers and agribusiness professionals. So the Monitor became a valuable source of news for them.
“When it started, it was maybe the only show like that about agriculture,” Malone says. “It was something new for the farmers. As it went along, it became more important for them.”
The Farm Monitor network continued to grow during the 1990s, adding more stations and cable systems across the state. In 2000, the Farm Monitor became a national show when it joined the lineup of the new RFD-TV Network.
Into the Future
Today, the show can be seen on 13 television stations around Georgia, as well as nationally on RFD-TV. Hosted by Ray D’Alessio and Kenny Burgamy; featuring reporters Mark Wildman and
Damon Jones; and showcasing the behind-the-scenes work of Dean Wood, Michael Edmondson and Vickie Amos, the Farm Monitor is marching strongly toward its 50th anniversary.
For more information, visit farm-monitor.com.