ACDC News – Issue 08-11

Six new agricultural communications research reports . Here are reports presented early this month at a session of the Research Special Interest Group of the Association for Communication Excellence (ACE) in Traverse City, Michigan:

  • Eric A. Abbott and Lulu Rodriguez, “Genetically modified crops in developing countries: a meta-analysis of mass media coverage, public knowledge and attitudes.” Abstract . Contact:
  • Katie Chodil and Courtney Meyers, “Conversations with gatekeepers: an exploratory study of agricultural publication editors’ decisions to publish risk coverage.” Abstract. Contact:
  • Katie Chodil, Courtney Meyers, Tracy Irani and Lauri Baker, “Branding the land-grant university: agricultural producers’ and community leaders’ awareness of the tripartite mission.” Abstract. Contact:
  • Kelsey Hall and Emily Rhoades, “Student publications’ place in agricultural communication curriculum.” Abstract. Contact:
  • Erica Goss Irlbeck, Cindy Akers and Mindy Brashears, “A content analysis of food safety measures on television’s Food Network.” Abstract. Contact:
  • Emily Rhoades and Jason Ellis, “Food Tube: online coverage of food safety.” Abstract. Contact:

Please check with the authors if you would like to review full reports.

Getting basic: land, water, assets – and education. World Development Report 2008 cites these four as key instruments in using agriculture for development. “Education is often the most valuable asset for rural people to pursue opportunities in the new agriculture,” according to the report. “Yet education levels in rural areas tend to be dismally low worldwide.”

In this report, “education” was interpreted broadly. It included nonformal training and information services to provide technical and business skills useful in the new agriculture – and the rural non-farm economy.

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Not much interaction on the Web about genetically modified food . If that statement sounds impossible you may find interest in research reported in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication . Using as many as 107 search engines over two stages, researchers Paul Wouters and Diana Gerbec uncovered relatively little interaction.

“The overwhelming majority of results we obtained were postings of information about GM food. Most of these were clippings and articles from traditional media. Even within the domain of discussion and news groups, most hits were less dialogical than they seemed. It is striking how often discussion groups and e-mail forums are used for the distribution of printed articles about GM food. The mountain of information about GM food that we uncovered gave birth to a very small mound of mediated interaction.”

Title: Interactive internet?

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A call for more consumer research about meat information systems. An article we have added to the ACDC collection reports findings of a survey among meat purchasers in Scotland. Results revealed that consumer views on meat production varied widely, and that consumers had concerns about food safety, animal welfare and meat purchasing.  Beyond that, consumers showed limited knowledge about the underpinning standards and systems of meat safety (such as food registration, labeling and information available).  Authors recommended “much wider research” among consumers about their understanding of, interest in, and trust in these dimensions of their food supply.

Title: Consumer perceptions of meat production

When bottom-up development becomes top-down . You probably are familiar with the Farmer Field School (FFS) approach in agricultural and rural development. Introduced in the late 1990s, has become increasingly popular, internationally, as producer centered, locally led, problem based and oriented to self-discovery.

However, an article we added recently to the ACDC collection raises a bright caution flag. Marc Schut and Stephen Sherwood cited three case examples in Ecuador of ways in which the FFS approach became eroded. “Supporting farmers to local innovations became technology transfer again, and the farmer-led, demand-driven character was replaced by externally-driven development.”

Title: FFSs in translation

Posted at: > Magazine > 23(4)

How agricultural communications began: a helpful reminder. Thanks to Bob Kern, emeritus faculty member of Iowa State University, for this report. He says a recent note in ACDC News about long-ago agricultural communications stirred something in his memory.

“Many of us in agricultural communication tend to assume the field didn’t really get started until our medium came on the scene. For me, that’s leaflets, journals, newspapers, etc. But people were sharing technical information long before then, I surmise.

When I was reading for my second language requirement as a Ph.D. candidate at University of Wisconsin (1958), I practiced on a volume of memoir of Napoleon III, the leader credited with razing and rebuilding what thrills us now as the center of Paris. In addition to recounting all the bridges he stimulated, he reported some items tracing to his forebear, Napoleon I. One note especially took my eye–and I still remember it. He recalled that Napoleon I had advised farmers of the day to seek the best methods for culture and husbandry by sending a son to work for six months or more with the best farmer in the area.

That was well before, in the third quarter of the Twentieth Century, Isaac Asimov led off an article with the sentence (probably re-phrased): We will be in the Information Age when we realize that we can move information without moving people.”

Communicator activities approaching

July 14, 2008
“Meeting information and knowledge needs of farmers in Africa through e-Agriculture.”  Seminar of the African Chapter of the International Association of Agricultural Information Specialists (IAALD) in Lusaka, Zambia.
July 26-30, 2008
“10th anniversary Ag Media Summit.”  Joint meeting of American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA), Livestock Publications Council (LPC), ABM Agri-Council, Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) and Ag Relations Council (ARC).
August 24-27, 2008
“World Conference on Agricultural Information and Information Technology” in Tokyo, Japan.  Co-coordinated by the International Association of Agricultural Information Specialists (IAALD).

Voices from the Dust Bowl . “These people were dying to sing about their plight,” said Charles Todd in describing his recording experiences in California migrant worker camps during 1940-41. Through a Farm Security Administration program, he and Robert Sonkin recorded songs of rural families who had been forced westward by economic depression and prolonged drought in the Dust Bowl of the Midwest. According to Todd, the camps were full of singers and guitar, banjo and mouth harp players.

You can listen to songs from these camps and review other materials about the plight of those migrant farm workers by visiting the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress at: .This site, “The migrant experience,” includes live links to an assortment of recorded songs.

Best regards and good searching . Please pass along your reactions, suggestions and ideas for the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center. 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 Com Documentation Center, 510 LIAC, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801) or in electronic format sent to .

When you see interesting items you cannot find locally or online , get in touch with us. We will help you gain access.