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Cartoonist Axed for Criticizing Big Ag

Rick Friday
The cartoon that got Iowa farmer and cartoonist Rick Friday fired from his job as a freelance cartoonist for Farm News

Rick Friday had been drawing editorial cartoons for Farm News for more than two decades, that was until last week when a cartoon criticizing Monsanto, Dupont Pioneer and John Deere cost him his job.

He drew a farmer lamenting to another farmer the downturn in the commodity prices. Friday was as surprised as anyone that the cartoon then cost him his job, especially given that it had gone though the editor of the paper before being printed. 

"If I would have put what most farmers say in this situation, I know for sure it would have been edited. It might not have ever run," Friday explains.  "This is something that I really don't understand. Everyone knows the facts. Nobody is disputing what I said with that cartoon."

During this River to River interview, host Ben Kieffer talks with Friday about the statement he made with his cartoon. Friday says he's going to keep farming, and he's going to keep drawing. 

"I've been approached by a few papers," he says. "But I know one thing, I'm a little bit more motivated. I'm not just focused on farm related cartoons right now. This kind of opens up another mindset. I'm extremely motivated since last Saturday." 

Political Cartoonist Brian Duffy also joins the conversation. He says Friday’s firing is an example of how the firewall between editorial boards and advertising departments at print publications continues to erode. 

Lindsey Moon is IPR's Senior Digital Producer
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River