The Iowa-based print and online journal Farm News has fired an editorial cartoonist who had contributed to the publication for 21 years. His crime: pointing out that the CEOs of Monsanto, Dupont Pioneer and John Deere made far more than average farmers.
The cartoon was published April 29, 2016, and the next day cartoonist Rick Friday, a farmer himself, got an email notice of his firing.
A redacted version of the firing notice was published by Minneapolis City Pages. It read: "Today I was instructed by [OMITTED] that we will no longer take a cartoon from you," the email read. "The last one, Profit, has caused a [OMITTED] storm here that I do not understand. In the eyes of some Big Ag cannot be criticized or poked fun at. The cartoon resulted in one seed dealer canceling his advertising with Farm News."
In an April 30 Facebook post, Friday wrote: "Again, I fall hard in the best interest of large corporations. I am no longer the Editorial Cartoonist for Farm News due to the attached cartoon which was published yesterday. Apparently a large company affiliated with one of the corporations mentioned in the cartoon was insulted and cancelled their advertisement with the paper, thus, resulting in the reprimand of my editor and cancellation of its Friday cartoons after 21 years of service and over 1,090 published cartoons to over 24,000 households per week in 33 counties of Iowa. I did my research and only submitted the facts in my cartoon."
"That's okay," Friday continued, "hopefully my children and my grandchildren will see that this last cartoon published by Farm News out of Fort Dodge, Iowa, will shine light on how fragile our rights to free speech and free press really are in the county."
- "Cartoonist Fired from Farm News for Pro-Farmer Cartoon," New York Times, May 5, 2016, by Christine Hauser.
- "Long-Time Iowa Farm Cartoonist Fired After Creating This Cartoon," KCCI Des Moines, May 3, 2016, by Vanessa Peng.
- "Why the Controversy Over An Iowa Cartoonist Is No Laughing Matter," Columbia Journalism Review, May 6, 2016, by Jack Murtha.
- "Big Ag Forces Farm News To Fire Cartoonist Rick Friday," Minneapolis City Pages, May 5, 2016, by Susan Du.
- "Cartoonist Says His Work Got Him Axed," Des Moines Register, May 3, 2016, by Donnelle Eller.