Investigate Midwest is excited to announce several of its works placed in the 2023 North American Agricultural Journalists writing contest.

Resident columnist Dave Dickey placed first in both the Opinion and Column categories for his work.

The judge noted on Dickey’s Best Opinion entry on the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: “Writer makes a convincing case spotlighting the lack of federal oversight with reporting from a variety of sources, including the agency’s own reports. They are presented plainly in a timeline that includes links. The reporting reinforces his call for an investigation of the agency’s practices.”

For the Best Column entry on embedded software license agreements farmers face, the judge said: “Fantastic column. The writer applies research, sharp writing and appropriate outrage to an important issue. The language is conversational, colloquial and at times amusing. It is an easy read yet still delivers a lot of information.”

For the Special Projects category, reporter Madison McVan’s collaboration with InvestigateTV — “Secret Subsidies” — came in second.

The judge for this category said of this monthslong project: “This was the contest’s only truly investigative entry. For that reason, it came very close to first place. The reporting is based partly on federal GAO reports that are readily available, but it went well beyond that. A FOIA request turned up emails from farm lobbyists seeking inclusion in the lucrative Market Facilitation Program. The balanced reporting included comments from a Kansas farmer and a lawyer representing large farms to a University of Illinois policy specialist and an Environmental Working Group critic of the program. Both farmers and the general public need more of this type of coverage of agriculture and government.” 

North American Agricultural Journalists is a professional, international group of agricultural editors and writers with a membership spanning the United States and Canada. The full list of winners is available on the NAAJ website.

Please join us in congratulating Dickey and McVan on their awards.

Type of work:

News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.