Dan Zinkand, long-time American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA) member and former editor of its member newsletter The ByLine, has won a first place award in the North American Agricultural Journalists Association (NAAJ) 2010 contest for a column he wrote in The ByLine.

Zinkand is currently managing editor of No-Till Farmer and Conservation Tillage Guide. He formerly was volunteer chair of The ByLine Committee for AAEA. He wrote the column — “Communicate the Art of Agriculture to Reach Millions of People off the Farm” in April 2009.

Zinkand’s winning column was judged in the Columns and Analysis category by Chuck Haga, Grand Forks Herald contributing writer and former two-decade reporter for the StarTribune of Minneapolis. He said this about Zinkand’s column.

"This is a thoughtful and perceptive consideration of language as it applies to agriculture and the sometimes strained relationships between producers and consumers. Farmers must grow weary of the fickleness of consumers who demand high quality, variety, low prices and ready availability, but rail about what’s required to make all that happen.

“The writer’s answer is better communication, and by communication he doesn’t mean more agencies and departments churning out dry-as-dustbowl news releases about acreage and yields and inputs. Farming is and must be a blending of science and art, he reminds us, and maybe farming — with its rush to identify with science as a way perhaps to raise its stature — has forgotten the power of art in its message. That art is found in a knowing farmer ‘picking up a handful of soil and clenching it between palm and fingers, testing to see if a field is ready to plant.’ I have never farmed, save for one unhappy day spent picking rocks on an uncle’s place, but I could feel that fistful of soil, and smell it, as I read the words. And I could sense the knowing and almost see the caring in the farmer’s eyes.”

Zinkand has been an award-winning ag journalist for decades, having also spent 10 years at Iowa Farmer Today before working as a freelancer for several ag publications and as an international ag tour manager. He also won an honorable mention in the contest.