ACDC News – Issue 16-06

Organic profitability around the globe – and a call for more information

Organic agriculture was found significantly more profitable than conventional agriculture in a meta-analysis of a global dataset spanning 55 crops grown on five continents over 40 years. Professor John Reganold, Washington State University, reported that finding at the 2016 USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum. Under actual conditions with price premiums, organic agriculture provided 22-35 percent greater net present values.

Can organic farming systems play a significant role in feeding the human population? “Yes,” he reported, “And so can other innovative farming systems, such as conservation agriculture, integrated, mixed farming and alternative livestock systems.” Transitioning to organics can be economically challenging, he said, and more information intensive. You can view this PowerPoint presentation here .

Bucking the trend in covering immigration

“Community journalists, particularly in rural areas of the Midwest and Southeast that are seeing the most rapid growth in Latino immigrant population, would do well to heed the example of the Garden City Telegram and learn from its experience.” Researcher Michael Fuhlhage offered that advice after he examined how a small community daily newspaper in Kansas bypassed the conflict-driven frame for covering the debate over federal immigration reform in the 1980s and 1990s. Instead, the newspaper included Latino leaders in the conversation and promoted immigrants as potential citizens rather than outsiders.

You can read this journal article, “Undocumented workers and immigration reform: thematic vs. episodic coverage in a rural Kansas community daily,” here .

Media urged to challenge the idea that expert views on risk are value-free

An article we added recently from the journal New Genetics and Society explored media coverage of the genetic modification debate in Australia. Findings of researcher Anna Salleh, Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, led her to argue for reframing of risk debates to give more explicit legitimacy to lay expertise and reinforce the idea that technology develops in a social context.

“I argue it is thus important, whatever the medium, to engage specifically with scientific arguments and to challenge the idea that expert views on risk are value-free while citizen views are value-laden .”

The article is not available on the open web. You can read the publisher’s abstract and citation information for “The fourth estate and the fifth branch: the news media, GM risk and democracy in Australia” here . You might invite the article from Dr. Salleh ( ) or check with us ( ) for help in gaining full-text access to it.

How food helps mediate conflicts

Colleen Maher Ernst, a 2014 graduate of Harvard Law School, concedes that science may never be able to craft a peace-creating menu.  However, in an article in Dispute Resolution Journal she examined the power of eating together. For example, she cited a source who observed, “Eating is a social (as opposed to adversarial) activity. It can be a benign way to have parties relax together without conflicting…that encourages parties to communicate.”

This article, “Breaking bread together: the role of food in mediation,” is not available by open access. You can read the introduction at . Or check with us at for help in gaining access.

“Selling our way out of the farm problem”

Recently we added to the ACDC collection a speech of that title by Joseph B. Hall, president of Kroger Company. He presented it 70 years ago (1945) to the Women’s Advertising Club of Washington, D.C. Hall concluded, “Through the years aggressive selling of ideas and products has helped America to grow great. In my opinion, intelligent advertising and sales effort will go a long way toward selling us out of the farm problem.”

Whereas the farm problem at the end of World War II varied greatly from the challenges of today, his basic perspectives about the importance of communicating effectively continue to resonate.

You can read his comments here , as published in “Vital Speeches of the Day.”

We celebrate the 35 th anniversary of ACDC

How can it be possible – as 2016 marks the 35 th anniversary of the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center? It began with about 15 agricultural communications courses being taught here at the University of Illinois – and a frustrating lack of teaching resources for them. We thought few resources existed, and how wrong we were. They existed, scattered so widely as to be invisible.

Today, the ACDC collection totals more than 42,000 documents about the communications aspects of agriculture, broadly defined.  They involve agriculture-related communications in 211 countries, 79 languages and more than 34,000 authors.  And we are hardly scratching the surface.

You can read a brief feature article about the anniversary here . We express sincere thanks to all who have helped – and are helping – capture and expand the vision, focus the effort, gather resources and make ACDC a valuable resource and service, internationally. A PDF version is available here .

Communicator activities approaching

June 13-16, 2016
Annual conference of the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE) in Memphis, Tennessee.

July 13-17, 2016
“Sustainable agriculture – made in Germany.” 2016 Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) in Bonn, Germany.

June 16-18, 2016
“May the horse be with you.” Annual seminar of American Horse Publications (AHP) in Orlando, Florida. Information:

June 21-23, 2016
Annual meeting of the Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) in St. Paul, Minnesota.

July 23-27, 2016
“Your gateway to excellence.” Agricultural Media Summit in St. Louis, Missouri. Joint meeting of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA), Livestock Publications Council (LPC) and Agri Council of American Business Media. Also annual meeting of Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT).

November 9-11, 2016
National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) annual conference, Kansas City, Missouri. Information:

On being alert as a journalist

We close this issue of ACDC News with a recent observation by Chicago Tribune journalist Patricia Callahan. She was honored earlier this year by the North American Agricultural Journalists organization for her excellence in agricultural reporting:

“I have learned over the years that the story you come across along the way is often far more interesting than the one you originally set out to tell.”

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 and valuable 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