ACDC News – Issue 11-02

How well do U.S. food exporters understand EU importers? Some shortfall appeared in recent research about trust in the fruit and vegetable trade. An international team of researchers conducted 21 interviews with importers in seven European countries and 14 interviews with exporters in the U.S. Among the findings reported in 2010:

  • U.S. exporters underestimated the importance of the product as a trust-building factor, especially in terms of product inspection as an indicator of quality.
  • They considered price to be the most important trust-building factor, although “this doesn’t seem to be of much importance for importers from the EU.”
  • They perceived that the reputation of their product is more important, as a trust-building factor, than EU importers reported it to be.
  • They placed higher value on personal relationships than did buyers in Europe.

Need help on the farm? Invite a crop mob. A special agricultural use of social media got attention in a USA Today article during the growing season last year. Reporter Judy Keen described a special kind of agritourism called crop mobs. The one featured in Missouri involved mostly urban volunteers who spend time working for a small-scale farmer, Chris Wimmer. In return, they learn about the food they consume and get tips about organic and sustainable farming.

Keen reported that more that 30 crop mobs have formed in the U.S. since 2008. Organizers use social media such as Facebook to enlist members and publicize gatherings.

Is the internet a better public sphere? This title of a recent article in New Media and Society introduced findings of a comparison of free, open and plural social communication in old and new media in the USA and Germany.

“No,” is the answer from authors Jürgen Gerhards and Mike S. Schäfer, even though internet communication has been expected by many to provide a better public sphere than “old” media such as newspapers, radio and television.

Their findings were based on newspaper and internet coverage involving some 1,900 articles about human genome research. Results showed “only minimal evidence to support the idea that the internet is a better communication space as compared to print media. In both media, communication is dominated by (bio- and natural) scientific actors; popular inclusion does not occur.” Authors noted that their findings parallel those reported in 2008 about coverage of genetically modified food.

How community newspapers are using social media. Publishers and editors of some community newspapers – large and small – in Kansas are embracing the community-building opportunities of Web 2.0. Les Anderson and Amy DeVault of Wichita State University reported several of those experiences at the 2009 symposium of the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media and the National Newspaper Association Foundation: Blogging and Tweeting. Facebook accounts. YouTube. Cell phones. Citizen reporting. Finding stories. More .

List of “50 Best Farm and Agriculture Blogs.”, a resource for gaining degrees from accredited online colleges, recently posted this list during 2010. The 50 chosen blogs are organized within seven clusters: news and information, sustainable farming, farming big and small, international, livestock and ranching, agricultural science and agricultural politics and policy.

Lamb promotion yields $44 per dollar invested . Econometric research reported during early 2010 revealed a 44-to-1 return to promotion through the Lamb Checkoff Program of the U.S. lamb industry. Researchers explained that most of the promotion centered on consumer relations and food service activities. Print and broadcast media coverage of lamb chefs (“lambassadors”), satellite media tours, feature pages for local newspapers and media kits were among the methods used. Researchers concluded that lamb promotion has tended to enhance the demand for lamb over the years, despite a relatively low level of investment. More .

On being transparent and up-front with the food customer . Fedele Bauccio, chief executive officer of Bon Appétite Management Company, called for “a transparent dialogue with our customers” when he spoke at the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum 2010. These are among the questions he said the dialogue should address:

  • Where does my food come from?
  • Who picks our agriculture? What is the human cost of feeding America?
  • What is your business carbon footprint?
  • Is the food safe?
  • What are the environmental effects and animal welfare aspects of concentrated animal feeding operations?

Communicator activities approaching

February 21-22, 2011
“The Perfect Ten.” Southern Region Workshop for members of the Cooperative Communicators Association (CCA) in Charleston, South Carolina USA. “To enhance skills in writing, photography, layout and design, social media, creativity, media relations and much more – all presented in bite-sized, top-ten lists!”

February 23-25, 2011
Annual meeting of the Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) in Fort Myers, Florida USA.

April 13-15, 2011″
Harvesting Ideas 2011.” Conference of the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) in Kansas City, Missouri USA.

Rural community art around the globe. We close this issue of ACDC News with some creative rural community art that came to our attention recently. The Western Australia organization, Bank of IDEAS (Initiatives for the Development of Enterprising Actions and Strategies), is sharing these images online. You will see community art that ranges across “Bulls” in New Zealand, edible landscapes in Malaysia, farm art in America, and memorial trees and interesting toilets in Australia.

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