ACDC News – Issue 14-02

USDA Crop Progress reports “have substantial information value.”

That evaluation came recently from researcher Georg V. Lehecka, who analyzed how corn and soybean futures markets react to crop progress information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His analysis covered the period 1986 to 2012. Findings suggested that:

  • Market prices tend to react rapidly to new crop condition information.
  • Strongest market reactions occurred during the summer months of July and August when weather conditions are most critical for the crop.
  • Market reactions to Crop Progress reports have increased over time.

You can read this research report at:

“It is going to be great! All natural ingredients.”

So read the caption of a New Yorker cartoon in which three witches were standing around a steaming cauldron of witches’ brew. This reference from more than 30 years ago caught our attention recently in a 1982 lecture by Professor Richard Wilson of Harvard University.

“A number of people argue that natural foods are better and our problems of cancer and so on arise from artificial chemicals,” he noted. “It is conventional wisdom to ridicule this. This ridicule is illustrated in a New Yorker cartoon showing that natural ingredients were used for witches’ brews as well as for honest men’s sustenance.” Natural phenomenon may wipe out the human race, he added.

It is important, he concluded, to understand a proper flow of information in reaching decisions about risk. “Risk analysis is an aid to a decision and should not be a decision in itself.”

Please check with us at if you are interested in gaining access to this lecture, “Traps and errors in risk analysis.”

Call for addressing restrictions on agricultural photography

Thanks to retired agricultural journalist Fred Myers for a thoughtful response to our recent item in ACDC News about restrictions being considered and placed on photographs taken in public places.

He suggested that all agricultural journalists should be aware of what has already happened and is about to happen in the rest of the communications environment, then take a proactive stance against unreasonable measures that would unduly restrict them from gaining important access. “This subject deserves a sense of urgency from everyone in ag journalism.”

You can read his full response here .

Images of agriculture featured in recent research

Three articles in the third 2013 issue of the Journal of Applied Communications examined consumer perceptions about food, plants, farming and agriculture. Other articles in the issue addressed topics such as morale within a natural resources public organization, teaching multi-media communications skills, and reaching those who grow coffee in India.

You can read these articles in Issue 3 of Volume 97 at:

  • “An integrated approach to teach communication skills using educational technologies” by Shannon Arnold and Suzi Taylor.
  • “Internal communication and morale in a natural resources public organization” by Quisto Settle, Ricky Telg, Hannah Carter, and Tracy Irani.
  • “An exploration of consumer perceptions of plants and plant characteristics: A qualitative study of Florida plant and garden consumers” by Kathryn Wilson, Carly Barnes, and Tracy Irani.
  • “Consumer perceptions of the U.S. agriculture industry before and after watching the film “Food Inc.” by Jessica Holt and Dwayne Cartmell.
  • “Narrowing the farm-to-plate knowledge gap through semiotics and the study of consumer responses regarding livestock images” by Joy N. Rumble and Emily B. Buck.
  • “Management of coffee leaf rust disease in India: Evidence for channels of communication” by M. R. Narayana.

How consumers decide about buying Fair Trade coffee

A team of researchers at the University of Kassel (Germany) used an Information-Display-Matrix experiment to trace the information-gathering behavior and final purchase decision of a sample of consumers. Among the tested product attributes, here are the four that proved most important:

  • Fair Trade label
  • Production method (organic or conventional)
  • Product price
  • Protection of children (ethical attribute)

Consumers in this experiment searched information extensively and applied strategic approaches in their searches.

You can read this report at:

Welcoming new ACDC Director Lura Joseph

Professor Lura Joseph is new director of the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center. She began this part-time appointment January, 2014. It accompanies her part-time service as Content Access and Research Services Librarian in the University of Illinois Library.

Lura brings to the Center a rich combination that encompasses physical sciences, information sciences, and human interaction. Following her undergraduate degree in anthropology, she earned graduate degrees in geology, psychology, and library and information studies. She gained professional experience in petroleum geology, then found career interest in library and information sciences. Combining those areas, she served as physical sciences librarian at North Dakota State University before she joined the Library faculty at the University of Illinois in 2001, serving as head of the Geology Library until it closed in January, 2011. ACDC associates are delighted to welcome her in this important leadership role.

“I am looking forward to serving in this new capacity,” Lura states. “It complements my experience and interest in grey literature (literature that is difficult to identify and access), indexing of scientific literature, creating and maintaining electronic bibliographic databases, and providing reference services.”

Professor Lura Joseph

Communicator activities approaching

  • February 17-21, 2014
    52 nd Convocation Program of Post-Graduate School, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi. Includes recognition for educational achievements in the social sciences.
  • February 26-29. 2014
    Krishi Vigyan Mela (Agricultural Science Fair) of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi. Features climate-related interactions of farmers and scientists, empowerment of farm women and sale of products by farmers.
  • February 28, 2014
    Deadline for entries in the green reporting competition sponsored by the German Association of Agricultural Journalists and open to German agricultural journalists.
    Information: Friederike Krick at
  • April 6-8, 2014
    Annual meeting of North American Agricultural Journalists in Washington, D. C.
  • April 9-11, 2014
    “A fresh perspective.” 2014 Agri-Marketing Conference of the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA), in Jacksonville, Florida.
  • April 27-May 1, 2014
    Annual conference of the Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education in Miami, Florida.

The flipside of an information-rich world

We close this issue of ACDC News with an insight provided by H. Simon more than 40 years ago, when computers appeared on the horizon.

“In an information-rich world, a wealth of resources creates a poverty of attention.”

Best wishes and good searching.

Please pass along your reactions, suggestions and ideas. Feel free to invite our help as you search for information. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @ACDCUIUC . 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, Room 510, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801) or in electronic format sent to .