ACDC News – Issue 11-10

Consumers wary of advice from food experts . Those who communicate with consumers about food can take note of findings from a 2010 “Food and You” survey in the United Kingdom. Responses from more than 3,000 adults across the United Kingdom showed them holding mixed opinions about food experts.  For example:

“I am fed up with experts telling me what I should eat.”  (47 percent)

“Experts contradict each other over what foods are good for you.”  (73 percent)

You can review these and other findings from the 2011 Food Standards Agency report here .

Prime issues facing communicators in animal agriculture. An economic analysis of animal agriculture, 1999-2009, for the U. S. United Soybean Board revealed five issues that emerged repeatedly, across multiple states.  They are “issues with which state agricultural organizations are grappling – and will likely continue to face – in the years ahead.”

  • Raw milk legislation
  • Animal welfare legislation
  • “Locavore” driven demand for small-scale, local processing
  • Action on climate change/pollution
  • Illegal immigration/labor issues

Effective communications is central to success as the animal agriculture industry addresses these issues at local to global levels.  You can read the full 2010 report here .

Rural areas to benefit most from mobile telephony. Authors of a 2008 World Bank report offered that conclusion after examining the role of mobile telephones in sustainable poverty reduction among the rural poor.  They identified studies throughout the world that documented how the mobile phone can:

  • Reduce negative aspects (such as corruption, exploitation, crime, and high and inequitable prices)
  • Increase positive aspects (such as education, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities, productivity, business expansion, tax revenue, cost saving, health services, disaster relief and social cohesion).

You can read the full report here .

Tips for extension professionals – on walking beyond the comfort zone. A journal article we added recently to the ACDC collection from Australia suggested that agricultural and natural resource extension personnel can improve their effectiveness by increasing empathy with their constituents. Pennie Scott identified several fronts for attention:

  1. Learn, experience and practice risk-taking, “a situation the self-employed face almost every day in their operating environment.” Explore the unknown in unison, she advised, as learning partners with an attitude of expecting the unexpected.
  2. Be sensitive to women’s ways of knowing, indigenous ways of knowing, radical ways of knowing, ecological ways of knowing and emotional intelligence.
  3. Appreciate differences in the language of managing natural resources and in the intimate relationship with the land.

The agricultural journalist’s higher calling. Writing interesting and informative articles about agriculture may be the agricultural journalist’s role, says Canadian rural journalist Henry Heald.  However, he adds, “giving people the tools to make informed decisions about life should be the vocation of every journalist.”

Now the longest-serving member of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation, Heald offered these and other career perspectives in a recent issue of The Farm Journalist published by the Federation.

Congratulations to Paul Hixson , an Agricultural Communications Documentation Center associate who has been instrumental in the direction and development of it.  Earlier this month Paul was named interim chief information officer for the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University of Illinois. He retired last August as assistant dean and director of information technology and communication services for the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. His experiences will help him oversee campus efforts to coordinate a highly complex, dynamic communications system. You can read the news report here .

Communicator activities approaching.

  • July 3-7, 2011
    “Sustainable value chain agriculture for food security and economic development.”  2011 World Conference of the Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education (AIAEE) in Windhoek, Namibia. Information:
  • July 23-27, 2011
    “Jazz it up!”  Agricultural Media Summit involving the American Agricultural Editors’ Association, Livestock Publications Council, Agri Council of American Business Media and Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow in New Orleans, Louisiana USA. Information:
  • August 30-September 3, 2011
    20th European Seminar on Extension Education in Helsinki, Finland. Information:
  • September 14-18, 2011
    “Experience new world agriculture.”  2011 Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists in Guelph, Canada, and Niagara Falls. Information:

Fearful of writing and tending to trifles. We close this issue of ACDC News with a story told by Xu Bing in the journal, Visual Communication .

“The story goes that, in ancient times, when there were no written characters and no drawing, Cang Jie created writing.  The heavens were so frightened that they rained millet, and the ghosts were so terrified that they wailed throughout the night.  Heaven feared that from that point onward people would attend to trifles and neglect essentials, that they would abandon agriculture for the petty personal profits to be gained from deploying ink and manipulating language.  Needless to say, if the heart and mind became thus perverted, the stomach would go empty.  The millet was sent from the heavens not only as a practical precaution, but also as a warning.  Thus comes the phrase ‘to frighten heaven and earth and make the spirits cry’.”

Best regards 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 Com Documentation Center, 510 LIAC, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801) or in electronic format sent to .