We take a holistic approach to covering current ag news, food and energy policy news and we never miss a beat. We make it our duty to inform you of the most up-to-date agricultural and food policy decisions being made from Washington, D.C. to the west coast and examine how they will affect you: the farmer, the lobbyist, the government employee, the educator, the consultant, and the concerned citizen. We investigate several aspects of food, fuel, feed, and fiber industries, looking at the economic, statistical, and financial trends and evaluate how these changes will impact your business. We provide insight on the people and players who are making things happen. Agri-Pulse provides you with timely updates of how policy decisions will affect your productivity, your pocketbook, and your livelihood. Whether it be new developments in international trade, organic foods, farm credit and loan policies, or climate change legislation, we keep you abreast of the information you need to stay on the cutting edge.
ABOUT OUR STAFF
Agri-Pulse is the most trusted farm and policy source in Washington, D.C., providing a balanced perspective on a wide variety of issues including the farm bill, nutrition, trade, food safety, environment, biotechnology, organic, conservation, and crop insurance. Our team of editors - the largest group covering this industry in Washington, D.C. - provides breaking news and analysis on the latest regulatory and legislative topics impacting the profitability of farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses, and the food industry. With a combined 200+ years of experienced agricultural coverage, the Agri-Pulse editorial team provides accurate, in-depth reporting on the issues that concern you the most. We understand agriculture and the key players, like none other!
Sara Wyant, Editor-in-Chief
Sara Wyant is an award-winning agricultural journalist, entrepreneur and founder of Agri-Pulse Communications Inc., a unique digital media firm she launched in 2004 to focus on farm, food and rural policy issues. As Editor-in-Chief, she oversees the nation’s largest team of agricultural journalists covering Capitol Hill and Sacramento, California.
An investigative reporter who has written many groundbreaking stories, Wyant has covered almost every farm and food policy debate since the 1980s. She is well-recognized on Capitol Hill, as well as by farm, ranch and commodity associations across the country, as a veteran journalist and sought-after speaker.
Throughout her career, Wyant has been a trailblazer through several “glass” ceilings. In 1995, she was the first female to be named to the senior management team in agricultural publishing as vice president for editorial at Farm Progress. She served as the first female chairwoman on the Farm Foundation's board of trustees and as president of the American Agricultural Editors Association, where she also earned an Oscar in Agriculture award for excellence in agricultural reporting.
Wyant was named to Folio’s "Top Women in Media" in the Entrepreneurs category in 2015. For her leadership within the industry, she has received numerous awards and accolades from a wide variety of organizations including: American Agri-Women, Agriculture Future of America, FFA, Missouri Farm Bureau, National Association of Farm Broadcasters, North American Agricultural Journalists, United Soybean Board and others.
A graduate of Iowa State University, Wyant gained first-hand knowledge of crop and livestock production while growing up on a century farm near Marengo, Iowa, which she now owns and manages. She and husband Allan Johnson also own the farm where her husband's family originally established a homestead near Almont, North Dakota. They are the parents of two sons and three grandchildren.
Email Sara Wyant: Sara@Agri-Pulse.com
Philip Brasher, Executive Editor
Philip Brasher has reported on food and agriculture policy full-time in Washington since 1999, leading coverage for The Associated Press, the Des Moines Register and Congressional Quarterly before joining Agri-Pulse in 2014.
He leverages his deep knowledge of the issues and his experience with top news organizations to ensure Agri-Pulse has the best daily and in-depth coverage of ag and food policy. His creative vision led to the launch of Agri-Pulse’s Daybreak in 2016.
Brasher has reported on food security challenges in Africa and Central America through grants provided by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. He’s also reported in Europe and the Middle East.
The native of west Texas found his interest in ag policy piqued in the early 1990s when he successfully won an appeal to USDA in Washington on a negative crop insurance determination for his mom’s farmland.
During his career, Brasher has had the chance to work with some of the nation’s best journalists, going all the way back to his days at the University of Texas at Austin, where his editor, Mark McKinnon (Showtime’s The Circus), taught him how to write a lead that people would read. His Pulitzer-winning publisher in Lufkin, Texas, Joe Murray, taught him that caring for your community means shining light on the good, and exposing injustice, wherever they’re found.
Brasher’s a member of the North American Agricultural Journalists, the White House Correspondents’ Association and SABEW, the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. He lives in Falls Church, Va., with his wife, Lenora.Email Philip Brasher: Philip@Agri-Pulse.com
Spencer Chase, Managing Editor
Spencer Chase is an enterprising agricultural journalist and broadcaster who is the managing editor of Agri-Pulse. He serves as the host of Agri-Pulse Newsmakers, a weekly show focused on the heart of ag policy, and produces Agri-Pulse DriveTime, a daily podcast of key events. He coordinates daily and weekly coverage by the Agri-Pulse team of journalists who are based in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento, California, as well as several other locations across the country.
Chase was the 2022 president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), one of the youngest broadcasters to ever have been selected. In 2020, Chase and co-worker Ben Nuelle won The Doan award from NAFB, recognizing excellence in broadcasting for their Deep Dive podcast on the dairy industry. In 2017, Chase was named the recipient of NAFB’s Horizon Award, recognizing excellence in farm broadcasting for members with five years or less in membership. Chase can frequently be heard lending his expertise in speeches across the country to key farm groups and agricultural audiences. He’s also a frequent guest on radio programs focused on food and ag policy issues.
A broadcast and news editorial journalism graduate of South Dakota State University, Chase is originally from a farm near Wolsey, South Dakota. He served as a summer intern with Agri-Pulse in 2013 before joining the team as an Associate Editor after his college graduation in 2014. Chase was promoted to Deputy Managing Editor in 2017 and Managing Editor in 2018.
Chase previously held internships with WNAX radio in Yankton, South Dakota, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the NBA G-League affiliate of the Miami Heat, and the National FFA Organization, where he is also a past state officer.
At SDSU, Spencer was a sportswriter for the campus newspaper, a student coach with the Jackrabbit football team and a member of FarmHouse Fraternity.
Email Spencer Chase: Spencer@Agri-Pulse.com
Steve Davies, Associate Editor
Steve Davies is a talented journalist who understands the complex environmental issues impacting agriculture and agribusinesses and related court cases. He covers a wide variety of topics at both EPA and USDA including pesticides, WOTUS, climate change, endangered species, PFAS and more.
Before joining Agri-Pulse in November 2015, Davies was editor and publisher of Endangered Species & Wetlands Report, a monthly newsletter covering regulation, legislation and litigation, which he launched in 1995. Before that, he worked for a variety of publications, including Green Markets and Green Markets Dealer Report, newsletters focused on the fertilizer industry.
Davies began his professional journalism career as a copy editor and reporter at the Gazette Newspapers in Gaithersburg, Md., before moving on to The Sentinel in Carlisle, Pa., where he covered Cumberland County government and won an AP Managing Editors award for investigative reporting.
He grew up in Chevy Chase, Md., and overseas, where his father served as a Foreign Service Officer: Moscow, USSR; Calcutta (now Kolkata), India; and Warsaw, Poland. He graduated from Brown University in 1984 with a bachelor's degree in Russian Studies. He has lived in Takoma Park, Md., since 1992, and has two children.Email Steve Davies: Steve@Agri-Pulse.com
Bill Tomson, Senior Trade Editor
A government-savvy reporter with more than 18 years of experience reporting on federal agencies and Congress, Tomson most recently covered agriculture and food issues for Politico. Prior to that, he worked as a reporter for Dow Jones and its flagship publication, the Wall Street Journal. The beat demanded extensive coverage of Congress, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
He started his journalism career in the 1990s as a reporter with Knight-Ridder in Sao Pãulo, Brazil, covering the country's dramatic expansion in soybean production. Tomson produced portions of the Brazilian Investment Guide for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Tomson loves to break news as well as dig into complex topics, such as trade policy, biotechnology, farm subsidies, crop insurance, food safety, ethanol and more. Tomson was a guest on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, discussing the FDA's Food Safety Modernization Act, and is frequently interviewed for radio, television and online media.
A native of Washington, D.C., Tomson earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Central Michigan University. He lives in northern Virginia with his wife, Marcia, and daughter Chloe.Email Bill Tomson: Bill@Agri-Pulse.com
Hannah Pagel, Associate Editor
Hannah Pagel reports on the movers and shakers on Capitol Hill as well as in key positions across the country. As the lead editor on our ever-popular Farm Hands section, she is charged with capturing the latest job changes and appointments. She is also a key member of the Agri-Pulse Newsmakers team and also produces “Meet the Farm Hand and Lawmaker” videos.
Pagel previously worked for the Ag News Daily podcast, hosting and sharing agriculture news along with building and designing marketing materials for the start-up company. She also worked for the Agriculture Entrepreneurship Initiative program at Iowa State, and for the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation. A Northeast Iowa native, Pagel joined the Agri-Pulse team in January of 2019.
She graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Agriculture and Life Sciences education with a biology endorsement, and is CASE Curriculum certified. She received the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Life Science Leadership Excellence award for the graduating class of December 2018.
At Iowa State, Pagel was an active National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) student member and competed three years at the national level in the marketing competition. She was a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority, attended the AFA Leadership Conference, and went on a domestic travel course to California focusing on the science around CRISPR technology and consumer perceptions. She was also an active FFA member, competing in various leadership events and receiving her American FFA Degree.Email Hannah Pagel: Hannah@Agri-Pulse.com
Brad Hooker, Associate Editor, Agri-Pulse West
Brad Hooker has been covering food and agriculture for more than a decade. Since launching the California branch of Agri-Pulse in early 2019, Hooker has been diving into labor, water and environmental justice issues at the Legislature, governor’s office and dozens of regulatory agencies—all through the lens of food and rural communities. He produces a daily science and policy rundown for Daybreak West and an in-depth analysis for the Agri-Pulse West Newsletter.
Previously Hooker was a director for a major campus initiative called the World Food Center, at the University of California, Davis, where he helped to build partnerships in the agtech investment space, bridge siloes in nutrition research and connect the world’s top academics for sustainability initiatives. As a science writer, he covered a range of plant and animal agricultural fields as well as business and economics research, and he had a brief stint in high-energy particle physics during the discovery of the Higgs boson.
Hooker has a graduate degree in narrative magazine journalism from the University of Oregon and is an East Coast transplant from Virginia Beach. He has traveled to more than 40 countries and once led a promising career as a mountaineer.
Noah Wicks, Associate Editor
Noah Wicks is an investigative reporter who likes to do deep research on food and agricultural topics and often develops maps and charts to help tell the story.
Wicks, who hails from a small farm near Nunda, South Dakota, joined the Agri-Pulse team in 2021 after serving as an intern the summer before. He graduated from Augustana University with dual degrees in English and Journalism and also served as sports editor and editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, the Mirror.
Wicks previously held internships with the Madison Daily Leader in Madison, S.D., the South Dakota Department of Revenue and the South Dakota Department of Agriculture. Wicks was an active FFA member in high school, competing in various leadership development events. Through 4-H, he competed on the 2016 state livestock judging champion team, as well as spending time as an exchange student in Norway where he lived and worked on a farm for a month.Noah@Agri-Pulse.com
Andrew Huneke, Producer, Agri-Pulse Newsmakers
Andrew Huneke is the producer of Agri-Pulse Newsmakers, a weekly show focused on bringing you the latest in ag policy and information.
Huneke joined the Agri-Pulse team in July 2022 after spending more than seven years in the news industry. He produced newscasts for five years at WBFF-TV in Baltimore, Maryland before producing and writing for newscasts at WTTG FOX 5, which covers Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.
During his time as a news producer, Huneke covered some of the biggest breaking news stories across Baltimore and Washington, D.C., including the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and the death of Congressman Elijah Cummings.
Previously, he worked as a production assistant and sports producer at WBFF and was part of the sports team that won an Associated Press Award for Outstanding Year-Round local sports coverage in 2016.
Huneke grew up near Fallston, Maryland. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electronic media and film from Towson University.
He is an Eagle Scout from Boy Scout Troop 124 in Carney, Maryland, and credits most of his professional success to the values he learned in the scouting program.
In his free time, he enjoys sports and is a fan of all Baltimore sports teams.Email Andrew Huneke: Andrew@Agri-Pulse.com
Jeff Nalley, Contributing Editor
Jeff Nalley is a 37-year veteran of radio and farm broadcasting and widely recognized as one of the best interviewers in the business.
He is a past president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) and has received numerous awards for excellence in broadcast media from within the NAFB as well as other farm organizations. In 2010, Nalley was named the Farm Broadcaster of the Year by the NAFB.
Nalley has received distinguished service awards from Purdue University, the United Soybean Board, Kentucky Soybean Association, Kentucky Pork Producers and the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation.
Nalley conducts weekly Open Mic audio interviews for Agri-Pulse. He also works with the Cromwell AG Network, which serves farmers in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Ohio with daily farm broadcasts.
Jim Webster, Contributing Editor
Jim Webster has been writing about and dabbling in agricultural politics and policy since the days of the late Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson in the Eisenhower Administration. Considered the “dean” of agricultural reporting in Washington, he has published seven newsletters and contributed to many other publications.
Agri-Pulse Communications Inc., acquired his most last venture, The Webster Agricultural Letter, in 2007, when he became a contributor. Previously he has written for the U.K. newsletters Agra Europe and Dairy Markets, an on-line dairy advisory service, Agro Washington magazine and National Catholic Reporter. He has addressed numerous farm and agribusiness groups in the U.S. and other countries.
Webster was assistant secretary of agriculture for governmental and public affairs at USDA during the Carter Administration, chief clerk of the Senate Agriculture Committee, agricultural legislative assistant and press secretary for former U.S. Senator George McGovern of South Dakota, and director of public relations for the American Public Power Association.
He's a native of Nebraska and attended Creighton University in Omaha, where he began working for the Associated Press in 1955. He subsequently was a reporter and manager for United Press International and edited a daily newspaper and electric cooperative publications in Nebraska, Wisconsin and South Dakota. Jim now lives in Arlington, Virginia.
Allan R. Johnson, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Allan Johnson has a long and distinguished history in agricultural publishing, marketing and public service. He brings that knowledge and experience to the Agri-Pulse team as chief operating officer, overseeing day-to-day business operations and offering strategic counsel.
He previously served as President of Farm Progress Companies, an agricultural publishing company that produces magazines like the Dakota Farmer and Prairie Farmer as well as the Farm Progress Show. The company grew from seven publications to 39 publications during his tenure as president. Farm Progress was owned by American Broadcasting Company, The Walt Disney Company and Rural Press Limited, Sydney, Australia (now Australian Community Media). Johnson retired from Farm Progress companies in June 2000.
Johnson was appointed to serve as Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development in 2005 after serving as Director of Legislative and Public Affairs at USDA Rural Development from 2003-2005. During his tenure at USDA Rural Development, he led the effort to brand the Mission Area that had formerly been three separate agencies with its own identity. In addition, a major outreach effort was launched under his leadership to educate citizens in rural America about the numerous important programs available from USDA Rural Development.
Johnson also has held numerous leadership positions, including chair of the Farm Foundation board of trustees, president of the Equipment Manufacturers Institute Suppliers Council, chair of the FFA Foundation Sponsors Board, president of the Agricultural Publishers Association and grand president of Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity.
He was named Ag Communicator of the Year by the National Agri-Marketing Association. In addition, the National FFA Organization presented him with an Honorary American Farm Degree and Distinguished Service Citation. Ed Schafer, former agriculture secretary, awarded Johnson the Group Honor Award for Excellence to recognize him for his leadership in producing the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference. The conference was the largest renewable energy conference in history and attracted official delegations from more than 100 countries.
Email Allan Johnson: Allan@Agri-Pulse.com
Jason Lutz, Sales & Marketing Manager
Lutz guides the Agri-Pulse sales and marketing efforts, leading our team to develop new relationships and find creative ways to meet and exceed customer expectations. He oversees both individual and group subscription sales, along with our digital advertising sales. He also manages the Agri-Pulse digital advertising and event sales.
Lutz attended Kishwaukee College in Northern Illinois, and has 10 years’ experience in the hospitality industry. He's an active participant in the local community and was selected as a Camden County Young Leader in 2012. Lutz and his wife, Danielle, love spending time on the Lake of The Ozarks and playing competitive softball. They have two daughters, Taylor and Austin, and one son, Jonathan.Email Jason Lutz: Jason@Agri-Pulse.com
Tom Davis, Marketing Consultant
Tom Davis is one of the most well-connected people in agriculture, having built customer relationships with a wide variety of contacts over his distinguished career.
He previously served as Vice President/Group Publisher at Meredith Corporation where he managed the business operations for several magazine titles and websites including Successful Farming, Living the Country Life, WOOD and American Patchwork & Quilting plus several other holiday decorating and crafts titles. Currently he is VP/Director of The Rosewood Marketing Group Inc., a marketing services company providing strategic marketing and business development support for Agri-Pulse Communications Inc. and other clients.
Davis grew up on a small farm near Floyds Knobs, Indiana. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University and in 2004 was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the College of Agriculture.
He has served as president of the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) and was named NAMA Marketer of the Year in April 2006. Davis is an active member of the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity and served as National Grand President from 2006-08. He has served on the Sponsors Board of the National FFA, and the board of directors for NAMA, Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity, American Business Media-Ag Council and the Ag Media Summit.Email Tom Davis: Tomdavisrmg@outlook.com
Burke Kennedy, Western Sales Associate
Burke Kennedy is the Agri-Pulse western sales associate. He supports the continued expansion of Agri-Pulse West subscriptions, advertising and event sponsorship in the California market.
Kennedy has a background in the grower/shipper industry and precision agriculture. Most recently, he worked for Green Rubber Kennedy Ag, providing solutions to food processors and growers through various agricultural and industrial product lines. He also worked with PlantTape to increase crop yield, improve efficiency and lower per-acre cost for growers through automated transplanting systems.
He was born and raised in California’s Salinas Valley, where his family grows, both conventionally and organically, leafy greens, fresh vegetables and strawberries. Kennedy graduated from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business.
Email Burke Kennedy: Burke@Agri-Pulse.com
Sara Waggoner, Office Manager
Sara Waggoner started her career in the legal field working as an assistant for an attorney with a specialty practice in rural water rights law. She later spent four years as the regional office manager for a multi-state litigation services firm. Prior to coming to Agri-Pulse, Waggoner was responsible for payroll and accounting controls at a major manufacturer of custom kitchen cabinets.
Akiva' Rooks, Executive Assistant
Akiva' Rooks is a passionate visionary and creator specializing in various communication and project management fields. Akiva' currently resides in Baltimore, where she was born and raised, but has also lived in Las Vegas and North Carolina.
In 2019, Rooks graduated Magna Cum Laude from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations. During her undergrad career, she was Miss of a hometown representative organization, where she coordinated community service initiatives and hosted intellectual events and workshops to connect individuals hailing from Baltimore and surrounding areas for fellowship. Currently, she is working toward a Master of Science in IT: Project Management from the University of Maryland.
Email Akiva' Rooks: Akiva@Agri-Pulse.com
Pam Hocker, Circulation Coordinator
Pam Hocker was born in rural Kansas where her family raised cattle and other livestock, along with produce from their own garden. She moved to the Lake of the Ozarks as a young adult and has been there for over 30 years.
Prior to joining Agri-Pulse in December 2019, she held several positions in customer service and accounting, including managing a local marina as well as a feed store. However, she is no stranger to the news, having most recently worked at the lake's local news bureau assisting customers and helping with daily publication of the newspaper and website.
Hocker resides with her husband, Gordon, in their Climax Springs home. Her three grown children and three grandchildren live close by. She enjoys spending time with them and her friends, especially while fishing or boating.
Email Pam Hocker: Pam@Agri-Pulse.com
Dave Thomas, Sales Consultant
If you became an Agri-Pulse subscriber by way of a free trial subscription, chances are you’ve heard from Dave Thomas. He is a semi-retired former corporate executive in the marketing research industry. His retirement home is just across the cove from our business offices and he joined our staff in 2018.
Thomas had a career of more than 30 years as a research director, designing and directing quantitative and qualitative studies in consumer and business-to-business markets throughout North and South America. His former clients include some of the world’s best-known brands, including Nestle, Frito-Lay, Taco Bell, Hyundai and many more. For most of his career, he managed the west coast office of a company (Synovate) that grew to become one of the world’s ten largest marketing research firms.
Professional associations in which Thomas has held leadership positions at the regional or national levels include CASRO (Council of American Survey Research Organizations, now Insights Association), ARF (Advertising Research Foundation), AAPOR (American Association for Public Opinion Research), DMA (Direct Marketing Association, now ANA), SAA (Society of Automotive Analysts), and others.
Thomas grew up in eastern Ohio on a small family farm, then earned a BA in Political Science and an MBA in marketing and finance at The Ohio State University. His wife, Valerie, recently passed away after nearly 60 years of marriage. He is survived by their two grown children and six grandchildren.
Email Dave Thomas: David@Agri-Pulse.com
Sandra (Sandi) Schmitt, Administrative Assistant
Sandi comes to Agri-Pulse with a 30-year background in accounting and customer service. From the construction industry in her native state of Florida to the non-profit world of the Warsaw, Missouri Chamber of Commerce, Sandi has acquired a wide range of experience over the years. As you will quickly learn from talking to her, she is definitely a “people” person.
Sandi has dual degrees in Accounting and Christian Counseling and also is educated in the emerging field of web design and development. Along with her volunteer work as Past Chair of the Benton County (MO) Extension Council, a first responder on the Community Emergency Response Team, and member of the Benton County Local Emergency Planning Committee, Sandi loves to spend time in the outdoors and around the lake. Sandi has three grown children and lives in a log home in rural Edwards, Missouri with her four-legged feline companions.
Email Sandi Schmitt: Sandi@Agri-Pulse.com
Cassandra Nelson joined Agri-Pulse in March 2023 and is excited to be getting back into the world of marketing. She supports all staff at our office located at Lake of the Ozarks. Cassandra hopes to help to develop relationships with current clients and prospects, resulting not only in personal growth but for Agri-Pulse to thrive for years to come.
Nelson had her first job in a marketing agency in San Antonio, Texas working as a data entry media coordinator for HTM, one of the state’s premier advertising agencies. After two and a half years with HTM she decided to move to Missouri and further her education. Life had other plans, as she jumped right into a job as a performer in Dolly Parton’s Stampede in Branson, Missouri. After a season with the show, she started her long journey in merchandising before taking a hiatus to start a family.Nelson is a military brat that has lived in eight states and eleven cities throughout her life. Although she herself is a native to nowhere, most of her family can be found in Missouri, but she will always call Texas home. She is a resident of Linn Creek, Missouri, with her Husband Dennis K. Nelson II and their two girls Emma and Aria. Her Hobbies include functional weightlifting, hiking, Spike Ball and singing.
Email Cassandra Nelson: Cassandra@Agri-Pulse.com