ACDC News – Issue 99-04

Special thanks go this month to Jianhua Dong

Who has provided valuable service in the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center as graduate research assistant during the past 3½ years.

Jianhua is completing his doctorate in Library and Information Science this semester and already has taken a new Internet-related position in California. The position fits nicely with his dissertation research, which centers on the capabilities of search engines. And this Documentation Center has benefited greatly from his expertise, interest and dedication. The collection has grown 25 percent during his period of service and has become available to many more users, through the searchable web site that he helped develop. We are most grateful to Jianhua, wish him the best and will miss him.

A new Agricultural Communication Case Study web site is now online.

Professor Ricky Telg of the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication, University of Florida, has developed it to serve as a resource for students, teachers, researchers and practitioners. You can view it at:

First two case studies deposited here.

This month Professor Telg deposited hard copies of the first two case studies in the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center, which is serving as repository. These two include:

  • “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner” Case Study. April 1995, 59 p. Summarizes efforts by the U.S. Beef Industry and Leo Burnett Company to plan and carry out a campaign of “improving target consumer attitudes about beef and halting declines in their beef usage.” A national beef media plan for 1992-1995 involved a media budget of more than $75 million. Study includes strategic research, objectives and marketing solutions through advertising, direct marketing, retail marketing and foodservice.
  • “Building an Environmental Writing Resource.” This writing case study is posted on the Case Study web site. A final report is available in printed form here at the Documentation Center: Nancy Riggs and Peggy Britt (eds.), Exploring Science Writing: An Environmental Focus. Illinois-Indiana and Michigan Sea Grant College Programs, December 1998. 75 p.

Another new document about commodity promotion.

Thanks to Noel Blisard of the Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, for providing a copy of Evaluation of Fluid Milk and Cheese Advertising, 1984-96. Researchers estimated that gross returns to dairy farmers increased by $5.33 for each dollar spent on generic advertising.

Get a full view of the NAFB Archives.

A new web site permits you to see an index of all materials in the National Association of Farm Broadcasters Archives, which are maintained at the University of Illinois. Here is the URL of this new site: Scroll to the NAFB collection.

In addition, you can identify more than 700 articles and reports from the NAFB Archives by searching the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center web site. Use “NAFB” or other broadcast-related subject terms.

We suspect that, through these services, NAFB offers one of the most accessible, user-friendly organizational collections in existence. As one broadcaster put it this week after reviewing the results of a “broadcasters” subject search, “WOW! I am impressed.”

Professional meetings approaching.

Here are the approaching meetings of several professional agricultural communicator organizations:

April 7-9
Agri-Marketing Conference and Trade Show involving National Agri-Marketing Association and Agricultural Relations Council. Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atlanta, Georgia.

April 25-27
Washington Watch, sponsored by National Association of Farm Broadcasters, Washington, D.C.
Contact: Kelly Lenz at 785-272-3456.

May 3-4
“Communicating Creatively.” Workshop sponsored by the D.C. Region, Agricultural Communicators in Education. White House Conference Center, Washington, D.C.

May 14-16
West Region Meeting, National Association of Farm Broadcasters, Rochester, Minnesota.
Contact: Donna Schmidt at 507-477-2577.

Notes from grade school English class. Ah, the memories.

“Here is some English to be known. Whom instead of who. Never ain’t. Diagramming also.” (Response from a youngster in English class, cited in: Harold Dunn, The World According to Kids. Spectacle Lane Press, Georgetown, CT, 1992, p. 59)

Best regards and good searching.

Please let us know if we can help you find information and/or if you can suggest documents that we might add to this collection.

ACDC News – Issue 99-03

Prof. Claron Burnett contributes documents.

Special thanks go this month to Claron Burnett, professor emeritus of agricultural journalism, University of Wisconsin USA. Professor Burnett is co-author of several widely used references, including Agricultural News Writing and Writing for Agriculture: A New Approach Using Tested Ideas.  He recently contributed 10 of his documents (published 1957-1990) that were missing from our collection.  Examples of his recent contributions:

  • “Differential knowledge gain among Wisconsin dairymen”
  • “Highlights of agricultural writing,” a paper tracing the development of agricultural writing in the United States.
  • Leader guides and member manuals for a popular four-unit 4-H photography series.
  • Instructional Improvement Handbook for the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

 New reference on science writing.

An attractive new 75-page teaching reference, Exploring Science Writing: An Environmental Focus,” came off the press in December. It is published by the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and Michigan Sea Grant programs and co-edited by Nancy Riggs of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Peggy Britt of the University of Michigan.

The purpose of the reference is to “introduce students to writing for the lay public about a few of the many public issues that affect the ecosystems in which we live.” Chapter 1 introduces readers to science writing techniques. Four following chapters offer writing samples and assignments about environmental topics such as water quality, exotic species, fishery problems and coastal economic development. Contact: Nancy Riggs at

Familiar advice from media.

Not much has changed in 28 years.  Science information still isn’t getting the coverage some feel it deserves.  Arthur J. Snider, science editor of the Chicago News, addressed this issue in 1971 at the National Seminar on Agricultural Science Communications.  His topic: “How the media make decisions regarding science information.”

The same intrinsic qualities that made news in 1971 make news today.  As Snider stated, science information is no exception.  His reasons for lack of media acceptance also sound familiar.  Here are a few examples:

  1. Space is limited and science news gets no special privileges from media gatekeepers who demand some element of applied
  2. Scientific jargon deadens reader interest, however sacred it may seem to scientists.
  3. Citizens “will not subject themselves to an effort to understand science simply as a bugle cry to duty.”

For more information about media use of science information, contact us at the Center or search the database.  Use subject terms such as “scientific communication” or “writing skills.”   (by Laura Cheline)

 Sample requests for assistance.

  •  During recent weeks a university faculty member invited help from the Center in getting access to documents about courses and curricula in agricultural journalism and agricultural communications.  Documents of interest also involved trends in agricultural communications and education, internationally.  We were able to make photocopies and forward them.
  • A student working on a history project asked for information about the impact of farm broadcasting during the early years of radio.

 Public attitudes about ethanol for fuel. 

Here’s a new survey report in the Center that sketches attitudes of U.S. citizens toward the use of alternative fuels such as ethanol.  Findings are based on 1,003 telephone interviews conducted during September 1998.

“America speaks out on energy: foreign oil dependency.”  Published by the Sustainable Energy Coalition, Takoma Park, Maryland.  October 1998.  101pp

Tracking farmer adoption of information technologies.

A recent national survey among more than 2,300 U.S. corn growers helps track their growing use of new technologies.  The survey, conducted by Novartis Seeds, Inc., reveals the extent to which growers were using GPS mapping systems, yield monitors on combines, personal computers and the internet for agricultural information during 1998.   Results of a similar survey conducted during 1997 show trends in adoption.  If you are interested in the results, inquire about:

“Summary of Novartis Seeds Farm Technology Survey Findings”

 Professional meetings approaching.

Here are the approaching meetings of some agricultural communicator organizations:

March 4-5
“Marketing to agriculture: building the essential foundation.” Conference sponsored by National Agri-Marketing Association at Westin O’Hare,  Chicago, Illinois.

April 7-9
“Brave new world.” Agricultural Relations Council annual meeting at  Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atlanta, Georgia.
Contact: Donna French  Dunn, ARC president, at

Best regards and good searching. 

Please let us know if we can help you find information and/or if you can suggest documents that we might add to this collection.

ACDC News – Issue 99-02

You will find a new link

On our page of web sites related to agricultural communications and agricultural communicators.  It’s the site of American Horse Publications, a non-profit association dedicated to promoting better understanding and communications within the equine industry.

 Here are some topics featured in recent communicator newsletters:

  • “Risk Communication 101” by John Phipps.  American Agricultural Editors’ Association
    ByLine, November/December 1998.
  • “Consumer demands driving ag journalism” by Antonina Ni Dhuinn.  International
    Federation of Agricultural Journalists News, December 1998.
  • “Improve your graphic design skills” by Glennon M. Scheid.  Cooperative Communicators
    Association News, January 1999.
  • “Top 10 rules for better photography” by Jeff Joiner.  Cooperative Communicators
    Association News, January 1999.
  • “Useful websites for communicators” by Brenda Fellhoelter.  Cooperative Communicators
    Association News, January 1999.

We join others in noting with sadness the passing of Joe Marks

A widely respected educational communicator in the U.S.  A professor and science writer at the University of Missouri, he died January 4 from internal injuries sustained in a fall in his home.  He served as president of the International Association of Agricultural Communicators in Education and earned respect through his leadership, professional skills, generous service and good spirit.

 An online “clearinghouse” of case studies

In agricultural and natural resource communication is taking shape.  Prof. Ricky Telg, University of Florida USA, is developing this collection as an aid to students and professionals.

“It would be a place where university students can access the real-life situations you have faced,” he explains.  He invites case studies for this collection.  You can learn more about it on the web site or check with him by e-mail at

 A tip on searching by subject matter.

As you search the Documentation Center online, remember that every document in the collection involves communications related to agriculture.  So the collection lends itself to cross-subject searches.

For example, if you want to identify documents about public attitudes toward pesticides, you might enter two terms under Subject in the search form, as follows:

  • attitudes AND pesticides

Here are a few other examples of strategies for cross-searching, by subject:

  • advertising AND dairy
  • adoption AND computers
  •  listenership AND farmers AND india
  •  “traditional media” AND africa

Further details and examples are available through Helps.  Simply click the “Subject” button on the left side of the search box.  And call on us if we can help you search.

Here are some new documents about diffusion, adoption and decision making.

We have added them to the Center during recent weeks.  You can get the full citations of those that interest you by searching under “Title” on the search page.

  • “Using ecolabeling to encourage adoption of innovative environmental technologies in agriculture”
  • “Environmental policy and technology adoption in animal agriculture”
  • “Compensating for information externalities in technology diffusion models”
  • “Technology use increasing in agriculture, still shopping locally”

 A closing tribute – to old fence posts.

We close this issue with a poem by John Robertson of New South Wales, Australia.    He was recognized for it in the 1998 Rural Poetry Competition in celebration of National Poetry Day, an initiative of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.  Our thanks to Mr. Robertson and ABC Rural Online.


Was young and strong, have aged since milled.
Been barked and treated, stapled, drilled.
The heat, the freeze, the rain, the dust,
Do blunt the barb, the wire rust.
Last strainer snapped, still upright, free,
But oh to be a Christmas tree.

Best regards and good searching. 

Please let us know if we can help you find information and/or if you can suggest documents that we might add to this collection.

ACDC News – Issue 99-01

Happy new year from all of us in the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center. May you have a fine year ahead.

 New study on attitudes about biotechnology in Japan.

We recently received the following report of a study designed and analyzed by a researcher at North Carolina State University:

“Japanese consumers’ awareness and attitudes about biotechnology”
June 1998.  20pp.

The project, sponsored by Monsanto, involved telephone interviews with a random sample of 1,000 Japanese consumers.  It paralleled a similar study conducted three years earlier.  Among the results:

  •  Support for agricultural biotechnology tends to have risen between 1995 and 1998.
  • Awareness of biotechnology among Japanese consumers remains low.
  • Overall, consumers continue to trust independent, scientific experts.  Trust of government agencies has dropped since 1995.
  • Japanese consumers who were better educated were more positive about biotechnology.

Contact us if you would like more information about the study.

“Connecting the Country” conference in Australia.

Several Australian organizations sponsored a rural communications conference on September 28-29, 1998.  It explored the uses and potentials of new communications technologies and services in rural and regional Australia.

Organizers included the National Farmers Federation, the Communications Law Centre and the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation.  Here are some of the topics addressed:

  • “Rural and regional communications: the debate”
  • “Agriculture and the Internet”
  • “The future: key questions for rural and regional communications”
  • “Launch of the National Landcare Information Service”

You can view some of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation coverage of this conference at the following web site:

 U.S. farm broadcasters really gathered. 

More than 1,000 people attended the National Association of Farm Broadcasters convention on November 11-15 in Kansas City, Missouri.

The December issue of NAFB Chats newsletter reports that highlights included “a full house at Trade Talk, professional improvement sessions, marketing and promotion activities, and lively voting member business sessions.”

 More survey reports available on food safety.

We reported in Issue 98-15 having received a copy of the “1998 CMF&Z Food Safety Survey.”  The survey is conducted each year in conjunction with the Industry Council on Food Safety, a restaurant and food service industry coalition.

Now, through help from CMF&Z Public Relations, the Documentation Center also has copies of the national food safety surveys conducted during 1995, 1996 and 1997.

Special thanks to Carol Bodensteiner

President of CMF&Z Public Relations, for this contribution to our growing collection of literature about food safety communications.  And congratulations to Carol.  The Business and Professional Women of Des Moines, Iowa, recently honored her as “Business Woman of the Year.”

Congratulations to Frank Byrnes

Senior associate of Winrock International and widely recognized leader in international agricultural communications.  The College of Agriculture at Iowa State University honored him during October with the Henry A. Wallace Award for outstanding service to agriculture at the national and international levels.

You can find some of his professional literature in the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center, using an “author” search.  He recently contributed materials to the Center, as a way in which to make them more widely available.

Let us know if we can help you announce a meeting or event related to agricultural communications.

Contact:  Jim Evans at

Unforgettable letters to Santa.

The U.S. Postal Service features on its web site what it describes as “unforgettable Dear Santa” letters that come to its attention.  We close this issue of “News and Announcements” with a letter written to Santa by a six-year-old:

“I want a racecar.
I want a electronic motorcycle racecar.
I want a lot of love.”

Best regards and good searching. 

Please let us know if we can help you find information and/or if you can suggest documents that we might add to this collection.