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Urbana, IL 61801 

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Jul 23, 2012

Issue 12-12

Impacts of media coverage on sale of organic milk.

Media coverage of organic food production and the National Organic Program significantly affected consumer purchase of organic milk at 257 grocery stores in a northern California market. Reporting in a 2012 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Kristin Kiesel found that:

  • Increased intensity of national and local newspaper coverage (measured in number of news articles) was associated with a 5 percent increase in organic milk sales during the weeks of 2002 in which she observed relevant news coverage.
  • Media effects on sales of organic milk dissipated quickly in weeks following news coverage.
  • Critical coverage of organic food production and the National Organic Program did not result in significant changes in organic milk sales prior to implementation of the program.

You can read this article via AgEconSearch at: http://purl.umn.edu/122316

This is a subject area in which we are actively collecting resources. Please alert us to other research findings or case studies you have seen about impacts of media coverage on purchases of food and other agricultural products. Send them to us at: docctr@library.illinois.edu.


Concerns about market transparency in U.S. agriculture.

  • More difficulty getting timely, accurate information about current market prices.
  • A dairy pricing system that is "convoluted, unduly complicated, and antique."
  • Hog and cattle producers finding fewer local cash spot markets.

These were among the concerns identified in a recent report from the U.S. Department of Justice: "Competition and agriculture: Voices from the Workshops in Agriculture and Antitrust Enforcement in our 21st Century Economy and Thoughts on the Way Forward."

Findings were based on five workshops throughout the nation involving a wide spectrum of interested parties, plus more than 18,000 public comments from farmers, consumers, trade associations, and academics, among others. Lack of market transparency was among 10 themes that recurred throughout the workshops.

You can read the May 2012 report at: http://www.justice.gov/atr/public/reports/283291.pdf


Communicating with consumers about antibiotic issues and food animal production.

Recently we added to the ACDC collection a conference presentation about this hot-button subject. Dr. Mike Lormore, director of Dairy Cattle Technical Services, Pfizer Animal Health, delivered it at the March 2012 conference of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture. Citing findings of consumer research sponsored by Pfizer Animal Health, he reported that:

  • Consumers mostly support farm antibiotic use for treatment of sick animals.
  • However, they are not sure treated animals should go into the food supply.
  • They also hold the view that antibiotics are used indiscriminately on the farm, with minimal oversight of either veterinarians or the Food and Drug Administration.
  • Also, they believe that using antibiotics on the farm contributes to the creation of resistant pathogens that threaten health – and using antibiotics to promote growth is unacceptable.

You can review the PowerPoint presentation, including his conclusions and recommendations, at: http://animalagriculture.org/Solutions/Proceedings/Symposia/2011%20Antibiotics/Lormore,%20Mike-Connecting%20with%20Consumers.pdf


Agricultural journalism—more than reporting news of the day.

We noted with special interest a recent column, "The ability to look back," by Greg Horstmeier, president of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association. He emphasized that reporting on the here and now is only part of the agricultural journalist’s job. It is also important to remember our jobs are also about recording things for history, he suggested.

"Is it worth all that effort?" he asked. "Absolutely. History typically only has a rare chance to be recorded, and is too many times not." Without such effort, he said, the potential for perspective is lost.

His message resonates here in the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center. It encourages us as we work each day to capture insights and lessons learned about this important field, give them an enduring home, and make them available today and during the decades ahead. We believe the long trail of human experience suggests that not all valuable knowledge is new knowledge. Insights from past experience can have lasting value.

You can read his column in the AAEA ByLine newsletter at: http://www.ageditors.com/byline/index.php/from-the-presidents-desk-33


Beautiful fruit art.

Thanks to an ACDC associate, Steve Shenton, for alerting us to photos of beautiful watermelon carvings from a festival in Italy. They reveal some uniquely creative ways in which to communicate using the fruits of nature. You can see these photos on sites such as the following blog: http://yougottobekidding.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/watermelon-festival-in-italy


Educational and community radio in the new media mix.

Countries in Asia, Africa, and elsewhere have much to teach others about using radio effectively, according to Sally Berman of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. Writing in the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, she suggested that the medium deserves greater attention as a means of giving educational opportunity to rural people everywhere.

She cited examples in Asia and Africa, including successful and innovative uses of community and educational radio teamed with Internet, phones, information centers, and other partners. A rich diversity of various solutions is necessary to meet the different [distance education] challenges of the international community, she said, "and radio should not be overlooked in the mix of emerging approaches."

Please let us know at docctr@library.illinois.edu when you see other examples of rural broadcast radio used innovatively in combination with other media.

You can read this journal article at: http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/563/1038


Thanks for videos provided.

Several VHS videos came into the ACDC collection recently as contributions from Amy McDonald of McDonald Marketing Communications, Dublin, Texas. They featured programs and samples that ranged from a feature about the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) organization to 30-second commercials promoting consumption of dairy products.

We appreciate these audio-video resources and welcome others. If you have such materials about communications aspects of agriculture and wish to have them considered for a home in the ACDC collection please check with us at docctr@library.illinois.edu. They may provide continuing value for students, teachers, researchers, practitioners, and others.


Welcome to a student assistant in the Center this summer.

It is a pleasure to welcome Thomas O’Malley as part-time student assistant in the Center this summer. A recent graduate in Earth Systems, Environment, and Society, Thomas has special interest in agricultural history. He is helping process the John Harvey collection of Volume 1 Number 1 farm periodicals into the ACDC collection.

Picture of Thomas O'Malley


Communicator activities approaching.

  • August 4-8, 2012
    "AMS/ABQ." Agricultural Media Summit in Albuquerque, New Mexico USA. A joint meeting of 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
  • August 15-19, 2012
    "Solutions for a green future." 2012 Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) near Stockholm, Sweden. Information: http://www.ifaj.org/congress2012.html
  • September 5-7, 2012
    Annual conference of the Association of Food Journalists (AFJ) in Washington, D.C., USA. Information: http://www.afjonline.com/events.cfm
  • September 20-23, 2012
    Annual conference of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation (CFWF) in Winnipeg, Canada. A celebration of soil and water, the building blocks of agriculture. Information: http://cfwf2012.com
  • September 25-26, 2012
    "Fertile Ground, Forward Thinking." New fall conference of the National Agricultural Marketing Association (NAMA) in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA. Information: http://www.nama.org
  • October 17-21, 2012
    "Big land. Big Sky. Big issues." Annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) in Lubbock, Texas, USA. Information: http://www.sej.org
  • November 26, 2012
    Deadline for submitting papers for the 12th International Conference on Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries, Ocho Rios, Jamaica, May 19-22, 2013. Organized by Working Group 9.4 of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP). Information: http://www.ifipwg94.org/ifip-conference-2013

G(r)azing at the weather.

With weather in the news around the world, we close this issue of ACDC News with a livestock insight from Weather Proverbs by George Freier:

"Goats graze down the mountain before a rain

And up the mountain for fair weather."


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