ACDC News – Issue 17-01

A New Year thought

We introduce this “Welcome, 2017” issue of ACDC News with a thought from Ralph Waldo Emerson about the key role of mindsets and communicating with one’s self. His perspective resonates here in ACDC as we gather what is known about communicating well (or poorly) in the huge and vital food and agriculture enterprise – within and among nations – local to global:

“What lies behind us
and what lies before us
are small matters
compared to what lies within us.”

Using data mining and social media analysis to monitor food crises

A research team in Germany explored how information from public-accessible internet sources, like Twitter and Wikipedia, can be harnessed for food crisis communication. They monitored messaging about the outbreak of Shiga Toxin-producing Escherichia coli 0104:H4 (EHEC) in Germany and neighboring countries starting in 2011.

Researchers found, for example, how they could measure public interest in the topic and gain early warning from online resources, detecting food safety issues that represent potential threats. Findings also shed light on methods for managing these complex tasks.

You can read the article in the International Journal of Food System Dynamics here .

Do food firms advertise and price to maximize profits?

No, they may deviate significantly from profit maximization. That finding is reported in a 2016 research report we have added to the ACDC collection. Two University of Connecticut economists studied advertising and pricing strategies in four food industries: beer, carbonated soft drinks, ready-to-eat cereal, and yogurt during 2005-2011. Findings suggested that entry-deterrence can account for deviation from short-term profit maximization. For example:

  • When potential entrants are extremely uncompetitive or extremely competitive, incumbent firms may reduce advertising and raise prices to signal their strength.
  • Incumbent firms’ use of lower prices and higher advertising may encourage entrance by signaling that there is great potential for profits.

You can read the conference research paper here .

Congratulations – 175 th anniversary of Prairie Farmer

Congratulations to Prairie Farmer (serving farmers of Illinois) on 175 years of continuous publishing, “making it the oldest magazine in America.” It stands as an amazing story of service, impact, and resilience.

You can read a news release about the achievement here .

Also, we would report that the ACDC collection includes more than 125 books, articles, reports, and other literature about Prairie Farmer , dating back to 1885. These resources involve, for example:

  • Special issues
  • Features involving the editorial staff
  • Content analyses
  • Readership reports
  • Reports of publishing innovations and ownership changes
  • Impact and contributions
  • Articles about communicating rural-urban issues

You can view the full list of citations at . Go to “Start your Search” and enter “Prairie Farmer” in the search box.

What a scattered body of literature

We have often expressed our amazement at the wide scatter of literature about communications related to agriculture. The challenge is not due to lack of organization or focus; the challenge is simply broad and huge. Communications scholar Steven Chaffee caught the essence of it more than 30 years ago:

“Communication is just too central to all human activity not to attract the interests of economists, psychologists, sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, and historians.”

His list is incomplete, of course, in terms of agricultural communications

This subject area extends far beyond human interactions in the social sciences and humanities. Communications is also central in the entire food complex, natural and physical sciences, engineering and technology, and all other fields of human activity. Here are a few sample journals in which we have found agricultural communications literature recently:

Biological Conservation
Trends in Plant Science
New Genetics and Society
Ecological Informatics
Food Chemistry
Nature Biotechnology
Global Environmental Change

This is why we scout so broadly for literature that can serve the interests of agricultural communications practitioners, researchers, teachers, students, and others. Human communicating is at the heart of agriculture.

Earliest Gallup report on consumer interest in organic foods

Forty-five percent of Americans were trying to include organic foods in their diets during 2014 when Gallup, Inc., first included them in the annual Consumption Habits survey. We recently added that benchmark report to the ACDC collection.  Among the findings:

  • Fifteen percent said they actively tried to avoid organic foods.
  • Organic foods ranked in the middle of the list of 12 others measured – trailing fruits and vegetables by a wide margin, but well ahead of fat, soda and sugar.
  • Americans who reported living in a big or small city were more likely to eat organic foods than those in towns or rural areas (50 percent versus 37 percent).
  • Inclusion of organic foods was highest in the West (54 percent) and lowest in the East (39 percent)

You can read that baseline summary here .

Communicator activities approaching

January 27, 2017
Deadline for research papers to be presented at the 2017 meeting of the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Life and Human Sciences (ACE) on June 12-15, 2017, in New Orleans, Louisiana USA. At least one author must be an ACE member.
Information: Research Director Courtney Gibson at

February 15-18, 2017
“Innovative approaches to Extension for upliftment of poor and tribal farmers.” 6th International Conference of the International Society of Extension Education (INSEE) in Dawn, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India.

April 2-8, 2017
2017 World Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) in Gauteng and the West Cape, South Africa.

April 22-29, 2017
33rd Annual Conference of the Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education (AIAEE) in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA.

April 26-28, 2017
“Go big” 2017 Agri-Marketing Conference of the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) in Dallas, Texas USA.

As the 35 th anniversary of ACDC passes

How many languages are represented in the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center?

Most material in the ACDC collection involves English language. However, 82 languages are represented currently in the literature of this collection. Huge needs and potentials remain.

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