They say that hindsight is 20/20, and as we look back at 2020 we can clearly see a tumultuous year marked by a pandemic, shutdowns and political division. The work of farmers and ranchers across the United States continued through it all, and High Plains Journal shared their stories in 2020.

Although we can’t easily track the print stories that resonated with subscribers, the website analytics for HPJ.com give us a picture of what topics and trends drew the most attention from our readers this past year.

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Trent Loos played Tom Gardner in "The Stand at Paxton County."

Our No. 1 story of the year was a Loos Tales column, “The Stand at Paxton County.” Trent Loos played the role of Tom Gardner in the movie of the same name, which Loos said is “inspired by the story of the Dassinger Ranch in Stark County, North Dakota, and how animal rights organizations work with local authorities to remove animals from their owners.” The film is available on Netflix.

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So you want to build a slaughter plant? (Journal photo by Lacey Newlin.)

Lacey Newlin’s “So you want to build a slaughter plant?” was the second most popular 2020 story on HPJ.com. Beef prices at the sale barn and the grocery store meat counter raised cattle producers’ interest in building their own beef processing plant. Davey Griffin, Texas A&M professor and Extension meat scientist, said, “It is just astronomical the number of inquiries we’re getting about starting a plant, getting these cattle through the system and just serving customers as well.”

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Dodge City doctor gives insight as positive COVID-19 cases increase. (Journal photo by Kylene Scott.)

For “Dodge City doctor gives insight as positive COVID-19 cases increase,” Kylene Scott talked to Dr. RC Trotter, the physician advisor for the Ford County Health Department in Dodge City, Kansas. COVID-19 cases began climbing in the county in April, particularly in the meatpacking plants, and Trotter shared what the county was doing to combat the disease.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused many events to be canceled or switched to a virtual format. Newlin covered one such show in her story “Tulsa State Fair to be reduced in light of COVID-19.”

Trade with China was a hot topic in 2020. Loos discussed China’s restrictions on American pork imports from pigs raised with ractopamine in his column “Is your pig running?

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Beef’s greatest talent is protein upcycling. (Journal photo by Lacey Newlin.)

Beef’s job title is “protein upcycler,” according to Tryon Wickersham, Texas A&M University associate professor of animal nutrition. In “Beef's greatest talent is protein upcycling” Newlin featured a session at a beef conference in which he highlighted how beef improves the value of protein.

Newlin’s blog post “The show will go on” focused on organizers’ efforts to provide 4-H and FFA members the opportunity to show at the Oklahoma Youth Expo, one of the largest youth livestock shows in the world. The ability of organizers of livestock shows, fairs, conferences and other events to adapt to change is one of the success stories of 2020.

Greenhouse gases and a fast food chain’s misleading messages directed at consumers were the focus of Loos’s column “Appears we are the slow learners.”

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Livestock markets offer value to producers. (Journal photo by Jennifer Theurer.)

Readers appreciated Jennifer Theurer’s behind-the-scenes look at Farmers & Ranchers Livestock in Salina, Kansas, in her feature “Livestock markets offer value to producers.”

Rounding out the top 10 was Dave Bergmeier’s “Second stimulus bill signed by president,” which informed readers about Coronavirus Food Assistance Program and Paycheck Protection Program funding.

What stories meant the most to you this year? Let us know what topics you would like to see covered or learn more about in 2021. We also welcome your letters to the editor (hpj.com/letters) and your comments on our website, Facebook (facebook.com/highplainsjournal), Twitter (@HighPlainsJrnl) and Instagram (@highplainsjournal) posts.

Shauna Rumbaugh can be reached at 620-227-1805 or srumbaugh@hpj.com.

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