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Issue 12-10

New 2012 Media Channel Study.

Farm and ranch owners, operators, and managers in the U.S. continue to find a special place for printed information, according to the 2012 Media Channel Study. This survey, conducted by Readex Research for the Agri Council of American Business Media, involved a sample of 1,062 farmers and ranchers.

  • More than 80 percent said they read agricultural magazines or newspapers (98 percent), general daily newspapers (80 percent), and printed agricultural newsletters (81 percent) at least monthly.
  • More than half of the respondents said they use agricultural radio programs (53 percent) or agricultural television programs (57 percent) at least monthly.
  • About half of the respondents said they use digital resources at least monthly, most commonly agricultural websites (54 percent) and agricultural e-newsletters (45 percent).
  • Most continue to use both traditional and digital agricultural media to help them run their farms and ranches.
  • Respondents said they rely most on agricultural dealers and retailers (about 70 percent) for validating and informing the purchasing decisions they make for agricultural products, equipment, services, or supplies.

This research will be presented in August at the Agricultural Media Summit. A public version of the results is available in a free download as a PowerPoint presentation at: www.abmassociation.com/Document.asp?DocID=16


How Philippine print media covered agricultural biotechnology.

Content analysis provided a 10-year view (2000-2009) of media coverage of agricultural biotechnology in the Philippines, the first Asian country to approve the planting of Bt corn. Authors of a recent article in the Journal of Science Communication examined patterns of coverage by three national English-language newspapers. They found during the decade:

  • A trend toward positive to neutral stories
  • Preference for institutional sources of information
  • A shift from sensational to balanced coverage

You can review this article (Volume 10, September 2011) through open access at: http://jcom.sissa.it/archive/10/03/Jcom1003%282011%29A01/


Redefining the ways farmers manage risks.

Traditional risk management practices involve helping the farmer calculate the probability and consequences of risk. That approach may not provide satisfactory results, according to a report presented at the 2011 Congress of the European Association of Agricultural Economists.

A team of researchers suggested that risk attitude is wrongly seen as a stable personality trait on which optimal behavior should be based. They argued that risk attitude is, instead, context specific and can be manageable. They presented a comprehensive theoretical basic model and used a case example (high-risk-high-value strawberries) to illustrate it.

You can read this research report via AgEconSearch at: http://purl.umn.edu/115749


Student taking the New York Times to task.

A commentary, "Why the New York Times’ essay contest is phony," caught our eye recently on the Drovers Cattle Network. We always are interested in items about how general media cover food and agriculture. In this case, author Lisa Henderson took the Times to task for bias in handling an essay contest about why it is ethical to eat meat. She took special issue with the panel of five "anti-meat" judges. "Does anyone really think this collection of judges could pick a winning essay that says anything positive about the eating of meat?" she asked. "Not likely."

Later, we learned that Lisa is a sophomore at Kansas State University majoring in agricultural economics and agricultural communications. She is the daughter of Greg Henderson, editor and associate publisher of Drovers Cattle Network. In a follow-up commentary he reported that the contest attracted about 3,000 entries and stirred a fuss about every conceivable side of the issue. Almost 17,000 people voted online for their favorite essay among six finalists. The winner proved to be a meat-eating school teacher from North Carolina.

You can read Lisa’s commentary at: http://www.cattlenetwork.com/Commentary-why-The-New-York-Times-essay-contest-is-phony-149176065.html

You can read her father’s follow-up commentary at: http://www.cattlenetwork.com/cattle-news/latest/Update-A-meat-eater-wins-The-NY-Times-contest-150677855.html


Wendell Berry – on rebranding the concepts of "education" and "economy."

Essayist, novelist, and poet Wendell Berry used the Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities during April to call for a rethinking of human connections with community and the land. The Jefferson Lecture, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, is described as the most prestigious honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities. Berry has long been known for his advocacy for family farming, community relationships, and sustainability.

He prescribed two antidotes for what he sees as an increasingly abstract and distanced relationship of humans to the land and to community.

  1. Broaden the definition of education—to study and appreciate practical skills like the arts of land use, life support, healing, housekeeping, and homemaking.
  2. Appreciate the word "economy" for its original meaning of "household management." "So I am nominating economy for an equal standing among the arts and sciences. I mean, not economics, but economy, the making of the human household upon the earth: the arts of adapting kindly the many human households to the earth’s many ecosystems and human neighborhoods. This is the economy that the most public and influential economists never talk about, the economy that is the primary vocation and responsibility of every one of us."

You can read more about his remarks in a news report by Scott Carlson in the Chronicle of Higher Education at: http://chronicle.com/article/In-Jefferson-Lecture-Wendell/131648/?sid=aty-utm_medium=en


Six barriers to sustainable consumer food choice.

In a recent journal article, Klaus Grunert argued that consumers face barriers even if food is eco-labeled and they are motivated to support sustainability of their food chain. His 2011 report in the International Journal on Food System Dynamics describes six possible barriers:

  1. Exposure does not lead to perception. Do consumers perceive eco-labels?
  2. Perception leads only to peripheral processing. Consumers may see the label, but not care to make an effort to understand what it means.
  3. Consumers may make "wrong" inferences. They may see the label, try to understand what it means, but draw the wrong inferences.
  4. Eco-information is traded off against other criteria. The price may be higher, the taste is not good, and the family prefers something else.
  5. Lack of awareness and/or credibility. Consumers who want to make sustainable choices may find it hard to carry them out in practice.
  6. Lack of motivation at time of choice. Consumers may forget about their positive attitude when making food choices.

"Manufacturers, retailers, and public bodies should work together in developing eco-labels that are clearly defined, are placed prominently on food products, and are supported by communication explaining their role and meaning.

You can read this journal article ("Sustainability in the food sector" Volume 2(3), 2011, pages 207-218) at: http://www.fooddynamics.org


Communicator activities approaching

  • August 4-6, 2012
    Agricultural Media Summit in Albuquerque, New Mexico USA. Organized by the Livestock Publications Council (LPC), American Agricultural Editors' Association (AAEA) and Agri Council of American Business Media. Also the annual meeting site of Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT). Information: http://www.agmediasummit.com
  • September 20-23, 2012
    Annual conference of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation in Winnipeg, Canada. A celebration of soil and water, the building blocks of agriculture. Information: http://cfwf2012.com

Watching the weather.

We close this issue of ACDC News with a bouncy piece of wisdom from George Freier's book, Weather Proverbs:

"The winds of the daytime wrestle and fight,

Longer and stronger than those of the night."


Best wishes and good searching.

Please pass along your reactions, suggestions, and ideas. Feel free to invite our help as you search for information. And please suggest (or send) agricultural communications documents we might add to this unique collection. We welcome them in hard copy (sent to Ag Comm Documentation Center, 510 LIAC, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801) or in electronic format sent to docctr@library.illinois.edu