ACDC News – Issue 16-08

Talking about agriculture – or listening to consumers?

Both approaches are important, but the latter are more so. Agricultural economists Andrew and Paul W. Barkley offered that perspective in their recent book, Depolarizing food and agriculture: an economic approach . Their analysis prompted them to conclude:

“Educating others about agriculture provides new information and knowledge. In a market-based economy, however, the only source of prosperity is providing consumers with what they desire. … Therefore, economic theory and analysis suggest that the flow of information from consumers to producers may be more important than providing consumers with knowledge about agriculture.”

You can read the description and other information about the book here . Please contact us at for help in gaining access by inter-library loan, or for selective searching.

Update on adoption of agricultural innovations

Adoption of agricultural innovations stands among the topics of highest interest in the ACDC collection. We have collected nearly 2,400 documents about this subject. They date back 110 years – to 1906 when the innovations involved farmer adoption of telephone service and creation of rural free delivery of mail.

Our latest addition is an update by Professor Philip Pardey, University of Minnesota. His presentation at the 2016 USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum included data from 1930-2010 involving U.S. corn growers’ adoption of hybrid seed, nitrogen, herbicides, insecticides and irrigation. His presentation also featured global trends and challenges in public and private funding for agricultural research

You can view his presentation here .

Is public relations without a future?

Yes — if organizations fail to guard against the ravages of spin. Researchers offered that perspective from southern Africa in the journal, Sociology Mind . They cautioned against:

  • Contributing to spin such as the appointment of ill-trained public relations practitioners who are mere order-takers.
  • Outsourcing public relations to outside agencies that could not care about the organization’s missions.
  • Defining public relations as a mere communication tool used to create favorable impressions at all costs.

Their exploratory factory analysis revealed that responding members of the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA) were “not clear about their potential contributions to organizational value and success, and may be prone to be exploited by the ‘real’ spin doctors – managers with little or no ethical conscience.”

You can read “Is public relations without a future?” here :

Consumers using a rich mix of socio-ethical considerations when they buy

A 2016 journal article that we are adding to the ACDC collection highlighted that pattern. A team of researchers at Purdue University observed the pattern in an online survey among 1,201 U.S. consumers. For example:

  • Women, younger respondents and those more educated were more likely to value and support environmental protection aspects of social responsibility.
  • Women, younger respondents, vegetarians and vegans were more sensitive to animal welfare concerns.
  • Those who traveled, volunteered or engaged in charitable giving also expressed greater valuing of environmental, animal welfare, corporate responsibility and philanthropic dimensions of social responsibility.
  • “All demographics reported avoiding companies that used advertisements that were deceptive or depicted minorities negatively.

You can read this journal article here .

Strong consumer support for pro-environmental food policies and purchasing

A recent article in the Appetite journal showed that Australian consumers strongly support environmental food policies (50 to 78%) and purchasing (51 to 69%). Feedback from a sample of 2,204 adults identified active concern about environmental aspects such as:

  • Effects of pesticides and fertilizers on the environment (65% concerned)
  • Depletion of ocean fish stocks (65% concerned)
  • Fertilizer run-off to the ocean (61% concerned)
  • Discharge of effluent (sewerage) from intensive animal production (56% concerned)

Authors suggested that “slower forms of pro-environmental communication may influence the population’s stance towards environmental issues.  The indirect associations of ‘health study’ with policy support and with pro-environmental purchasing intentions suggest that education may have positive long term effects.”

You can read the abstract of this article, “Food concerns and support for environmental food policies and purchasing,” at:

Or check with us at for help in gaining access to the article.

 Thanks and best wishes to Cailin Cullen

We are grateful for the excellent service of Cailin Cullen, who has been graduate assistant in the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center during the past year. Cailin recently completed her master’s degree from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science here at the University of Illinois. Her appointment in ACDC continued through July as assistant manager and webmaster.

Communicator activities approaching

September 21-25, 2016
Annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Sacramento, California.

November 9-11, 2016
“Waves of Opportunity.” Seventy-third annual conference of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) in Kansas City, Missouri.

Fireflies really communicating – but how?

Fireflies are putting on a spectacular light show in our lawn and grove during this season. They remind us of an anonymously-authored poem published in the July 1932 issue of Successful Farming magazine:

Firefly lights go on and off
Without electric switches.
Little Sister watches them
In sloughs and over ditches.

She thinks that fireflies carry lamps
And light them as they fly,
But Sister cannot see the lamps,
Nor how they work – nor why.

So she’s decided she will ask
The first one that she catches
How fireflies carry lamps about
And where they get their matches.

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