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Inching toward retirement, Jim Webster sells his influential agricultural letter to Agri-Pulse.

Jim Webster could be describing himself with the title of his highly popular section in The Webster Agricultural Letter, "Farm Hands on the Potomac." He's been a "farm hand on the Potomac" since the 1970s when he served on the staff of Senator George McGovern and the Senate Agriculture Committee and then as Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Government & Public Affairs during the Carter administration. ("That was the best job I ever had. I had a car and a driver to take me to evening cocktail parties.")

He started in the newsletter business in 1981 after leaving the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He now tells us, "After acquiring or launching 7 newsletters--all in food and agriculture--and disposing of or selling some, I consolidated 2 into The Webster Agriculture Letter [apparently reflecting his solid name recognition among the agriculture community] in January 1994.

"So I kept at it for 13 years and 3 months until this opportunity came along," Webster says. That "opportunity" is the recent purchase of his newsletter by the Illinois-based Agri-Pulse Communications, a leader in reporting and analysis on agricultural policy, trade, and economics.

Agri-Pulse president Sara Wyant says of Jim Webster, "He is extremely well connected and brings decades of experience to our reporting team. This will allow us to provide unmatched coverage of the leading issues affecting agriculture and rural America, especially as debate heats up on the 2007 Farm Bill."

More time now reporting and less time on operations

Webster adds, "I have always had great respect for the job Sara has done with Agri-Pulse and her wide diversity of contacts. As I evaluated my eventual retirement, I felt this was the best home for my long-time and loyal subscribers. I look forward to spending more time covering Washington and less time on the day-to-day business operations of the newsletter."

It would seem that the internationally distributed Webster Agricultural Letter and Agri-Pulse are in direct competition with the Kent, England-based Agra Informa LTD, but Jim tells us, "In addition to writing for Agri-Pulse, I'll continue contributing to U.K.-based Agra Informa letters." Agra Informa publishes about 50 newsletters covering the world food market with titles as diverse as AgraFood Asia, AgraFood Biotech, Potato Markets Weekly, WorldFish Report, Livestock and Meat, Milk Products, World Drinks Report, and World Food Law.

Sara Wyant is also, like the proverbial farmer, "outstanding in her field." With more than 25 years of experience covering agriculture and related fields, she is a past president of the American Agricultural Editors' Association. In 2000, she received the Oscar in Agriculture for excellence in agricultural reporting, the industry's top award.

Jim Webster,

Agri-Pulse Communications, 5N985 State Road 31, St. Charles, IL 60175, 630-247-7142,
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Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:May 7, 2007
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