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Source: IFT Publications news release

Steve DeWitt retired as the first and only publisher of IFT Publications for the past 30 years effective Aug. 1. During his three decades as publisher DeWitt oversaw the launch of the flagship weekly ag publication Iowa Farmer Today in 1984, followed by Missouri Farmer Today in 2006.

Earlier this year IFT Publications, a subsidiary of Lee Enterprises and member of the Lee AgriMedia group, expanded into neighboring Illinois with the launch of Illinois Farmer Today.

With DeWitt's retirement, Terry Reilly has been promoted to publisher of Iowa Farmer Today and Missouri Farmer Today, and Becky Croy has been promoted to publisher of Illinois Farmer Today and Midwest Marketer, a weekly publication focused on the livestock salebarn industry.

"Steve has had an exemplary career in the field of agricultural publishing," said Brian Kroshus, group publisher for Lee AgriMedia. "His vision to create Iowa Farmer Today 30 years ago, is a true success story.

I can't thank him enough for his years of service, and contributions to Lee Agri-Media. When you think of Iowa Farmer Today, you can't help but think of Steve DeWitt, he's certainly left his mark."

Kroshus added, "I'm excited for both Terry and Becky, and confident they will uphold and build upon the high quality standards our titles are known for. Both have extensive experience in the publishing sector, and will continue to do a fantastic job of connecting with producers across the geographies we serve."

"We started when no one thought it was a good idea," said DeWitt, recalling the launch of Iowa Farmer Today in 1984.

"There was plenty of farm media at the time," Agriculture was also in the middle of an historic financial farm crisis when the first issue came off the press Sept. 8, 1984.

"We were just coming out of a Depression. We started during a rough period and I think it made us better," he said.

The original idea for Iowa Farmer Today grew from DeWitt's work experiences. His first job out of college was with Wallaces Farmer. He then went into the ad agency business in Des Moines where he worked with large ag accounts.

He could see that local newspapers were paying attention only to the headline farm news and not the nuts and bolts information that farmers need. On the other hand, he said, farmers felt ignored by national publications because they could not report on their local issues.

DeWitt mapped out a plan for a hybrid publication, a newspaper that would cover local and national news for farmers.

"We could see how IFT would be perceived by readers to secure its long-term viability would be determined by content," he said. "From the very beginning we heavily invested in reporters in the newsroom. We were in the field talking with farmers."

IFT Publications was owned by The Gazette Company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for the first 20 years. IFT Publications was sold to Lee Enterprises in 2004.

Today, IFT Publications includes its three major publications plus accompanying websites, Midwest Marketer and Market Watch Online, a twice-daily email newsletter. Along the way the company has experimented with a variety of media including Iowa Pork Today, Iowa Beef Today, American Acreage, Equipment Connection and three web cams that included Corn Cam, Soybean Cam and Dairy Cam.

DeWitt also served on the Iowa FFA Foundation board and served as its president when the foundation launched a multi-million dollar fund-raising campaign to build its new enrichment center in Ankeny. For his service he received an Honorary American FFA Degree.

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