ACDC News – Issue 13-14

Cooperative communicators celebrating 60 years

Congratulations to members of the Cooperative Communicators Association (CCA) as they observe the 60 th anniversary of their professional organization. What formed in 1953 as the Cooperative Editorial Association now serves more than 300 communicators across the U.S., New Zealand, Canada, and United Kingdom. It helps develop professionals who communicate for cooperatives and others interested in cooperative values and principles. They lead communications efforts for cooperatives in farm marketing and supply, foods, rural electric services, farm credit, consumer interests, and others.

You can view historical highlights, memories and other anniversary information on a special website at: .

Where is (rural) watchdog journalism today?

Dan Froomkin, former senior Washington correspondent for The Huffington Post, asked about the current state of watchdog journalism in the Spring 2013 issue of Nieman Reports . He answered by leading with a newspaper series about the rural counties of South Carolina where conditions drag the state’s rankings in health, education and economic opportunity to “the bottom of nearly every list you want it to be at the top of.”

Reporter Doug Pardue of the Charleston Post and Courier used an approach which illustrated what Froomkin noted as a new way watchdog reporters fulfill an old mission. To many people, he said, watchdog reporting is synonymous with investigating and ferreting out secrets. However, watchdog reporting also involves reporting what may well be in plain sight—contrasting what is said, rebuffing, rebutting misinformation, and sometimes even taking a position on what the facts suggest is the right solution.

You can read this article at:

New focus on communicating about farm and agricultural safety

Our new research project is under way! ACDC and the National Farm Medicine Center are collaborating in a pilot project to lay the groundwork for expanded and innovative communications about agricultural safety. It is funded by the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (UMASH). Prof. Joyce Wright of ACDC is principal investigator with communications specialist Scott Heiberger serving as representative of the National Farm Medicine Center, based in Marshfield, Wisconsin. Matt Harrington, information specialist, serves as team coordinator, assisted by Amanda Marolf as research analyst and Jim Evans as communications resource person.

The first steps involve examining the amount and nature of safety-related media coverage in several hazardous industries, including agriculture. Efforts will also involve survey research and a literature review, drawing upon resources in the ACDC collection and other sources. The project timeline extends until Spring 2014. According to principal investigator Wright, this project involves cutting-edge research on communications in support of farm and agricultural safety.

Reading food labels takes 11 pounds off body weight

Food labeling and dietary guidance help consumers make healthier choices, according to a national study by Joanna Parks of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. She used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to estimate the effect of food labels and dietary guidance on the intake of 18 nutrients. She found that:

  • Using the Nutrition Facts panel on food labels decreases total calories consumed per day by 120 kilocalories, enough to explain at least an 11-pound difference in steady state body weight.
  • Using health claims, ingredient lists and serving size information appears to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and facilitate the management of body weight and diet-related health conditions such as hypertension.
  • Using the MyPyramid meal panel decreases average daily intake of cholesterol.

“Unfortunately,” she concludes, “it appears that many individuals only use these tools and information once they have developed diet-related diseases that necessitate changes in diet and lifestyle.”

You can read this 2013 conference paper, “The effects of food labeling,” at:

How local is local?

With consumers increasingly interested in local foods, agricultural researchers are examining what “local” means to consumers. Two University of Kentucky agricultural economists used an online choice experiment to examine preference among U.S. and Canadian consumers for beef steaks with different food mile implications. Among the findings:

  • Consumers indicated that 160 km (100 miles) distance is an appropriate definition to local food, while 320 km (200 miles) is slightly less preferred.
  • On average, they preferred LOCAL over PRODUCT OF CANADA and PRODUCT OF USA.

You can read this 2013 conference paper at:

Evaluating the impact of your website

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, Rome, Italy, has created an 87-page guide to help CGIAR Centers throughout the world evaluate the usage, usability and usefulness of their websites. Tools include web log analysis, web analytics, usability measurement, surveys among users, website performance tests, and others.

You can read this 2007 guide at:

Communicator activities approaching

  • October 4-6, 2013
    “Big agriculture in a small setting.” Annual conference of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation (CFWF) at Harrison Hot Springs Resort in British Columbia.
  • October 18, 2013
    Deadline for submitting research and professional papers to be presented in the Agricultural Communications Section of the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists meeting in Dallas, Texas, February 1-4, 2014. Contact: Craig Gautreaux at .
    Information about the Section:
  • November 6, 2013
    Deadline for submitting posters to be presented in the Agricultural Communications Section (above). To feature innovative ideas and research in agricultural communications.
    Contact: Frankie Gould at .
  • November 13-15, 2013
    “Farm broadcasting: Intrusive Success.” Annual meeting of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) in Kansas City, Missouri USA.

A quiz for the language experts

We close this issue of ACDC News with a quiz item from Prof. Ernest Barreto of the Nonlinear Science Group at George Mason University.

Question:        What English words contain all the vowels in alphabetical order?

Answers:         Facetious and abstemious

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