ACDC News – Issue 00-23

Returning to the small corner butcher shop.

As consumers in France faced a new wave of fear about mad cow disease during early November, a report in New York Times indicated that large numbers are spurning the supermarkets.

“Americans might have sought reassurances from large outlets, giving full faith and credence to government inspection and the ability of big enterprises to pay for top-notch technology. But the French turned instead to the familiar face and the romance of the traditional farm, revealing at the same time a great deal about how they think about their government and about fear itself.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Living with mad cows: the French and fear itself”) or author search (Daley) for the full citation.

Current hot research topics in agricultural marketing communications.

A report in the November/December issue of Agri Marketing magazine explores trends in such research. Researchers featured in the report also identify some “hot topics” being researched today in support of agricultural marketing:

  • farmers’ use of e-commerce, and marketing opportunities associated with it
  • farmers’ use and marketing of GMO products
  • farmers’ use of crop protection products
  • pricing and value-added pricing
  • new-product research
  • farmers’ attitudes about a range of current topics

Reference: Use a title search (“Working as a team: outside research suppliers play a more critical role in delivering timely, actionable information”) or author search (Coakley) for the full citation.

Ag communicators – in high demand.

That report came to Agricultural Relations Council members from executive recruiter Dennis Bryant during a November gathering in Kansas City, Missouri. News about his remarks appeared in the November issue of ARCLightnewsletter. In it, Bryant was cited as saying that the global economy is creating opportunities for agricultural communicators, as is the Internet. The Internet, he emphasized, is all about communications and he added, “…it’s big and here to stay.”

Keen eyes on fun, location and challenge. 

At the same ARC gathering, agricultural journalism faculty members Kristina Boone (Kansas State University) and Marilyn Cummins (University of Missouri) said that graduating students make their job decisions based on a variety of factors. High on the list:

  • work environment (supportive, fun)
  • challenge and respect (“They want to feel that their work makes a difference”)
  • location (“family is very important to these students”)
  • the appeal of public relations (“few grasp that writing is the heart and soul” of it)

Reference: Use a title search (“The inside track on capturing the best and brightest new college graduates for entry-level positions”) for the full citation, including URL for online access.

Communicating with animals – also in high demand.

A recent article in Agricultural Research magazine describes efforts by a U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist to communicate by satellite with cattle on open range. The researcher, known as “Cyber Cow Whisperer,” uses a locator/controller cow collar that “whispers electronic versions of the cowboy’s ‘gee’ (go right) and ‘haw’ (go left) into the cow’s ears.”

Reference: Use a title search (“The cyber cow whisperer and his virtual fence”) or author search (Comis) for the full citation, including URL for online access.

Concerns about a rural-urban technology gap in the U.S.

During recent years the Economic Research Service, USDA, has described some of them. Examples:

  1. “A significant rural-urban gap exists in use of advanced production and telecommunications technologies. The gap appears to be a result of industry structure rather than slower adoption rates in rural areas. … Availability of technical assistance is generally cited as a minor barrier to advanced technology use, but lack of knowledge is cited as the chief barrier to telecommunications use.” (Reference: use a title search [“Is there a rural-urban technology gap?”] for the full citation, including URL for online access)
  2. “The local telecommunications service providers surveyed do not expect the 1996 Act to benefit them or their rural customers. (Reference: use a title search [“Impact of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 for rural areas”] for the full citation, including URL for online access)
  3. “Strategic planning for telecommunications can be a time-consuming process, even in small towns.” (Reference: use a title search [“Strategic planning for telecommunications in rural communities”] for the full citation, including URL for online access.

The laughter of culture.

That’s the title of a thought-provoking article by Arturo Escobar in Development journal. He refers to the laughter of the desperately poor – “a laughter of resistance and pain, of hope and despair at the same time. We may call this laughter the laughter of culture.”

“In the beginning, there was culture,” he says. “Not markets, nor economic growth, nor profits; not experts, nor civil societies, nor global environmental problems; not development, nor globalization. In the beginning there was culture, and in the end – hopefully – culture remains.” He encourages reconceiving and reconstructing the world “from the perspective of manifest local cultures and local ecological, economic and social practices.

Reference: Use a title search (above) for the full citation.

Involving Extension volunteers.

A research report that came to the Center recently from Florita Stubbs Montgomery of West Virginia University offers useful guidelines for working successfully with volunteers in Extension programs.

S. Eagan, J.M. Hileman, R. Miller and F.S. Montgomery, Survey of Extension volunteers’ perceived needs and involvement. Extension Service, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV. 1994. 83 pp.

Findings of the survey among 556 Extension volunteers in West Virginia led the research work group to suggest:

  • implications for training volunteers
  • implications for clarifying roles and decision making
  • implications for recognizing volunteers for their efforts
  • 15 recommendations for practice concerning Extension volunteers
  • 12 recommendations for needed research involving Extension volunteers

Reference: Use a title search (“Survey of Extension volunteers”) or author search (Eagan) for the full citation.

Approaching professional event.

Following are some conferences and other kinds of professional improvement events about agriculture-related communicating:

January 27-31, 2001
Agricultural Communications Section will report research during the 98th annual meeting of the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists (SAAS) in Fort Worth, Texas.

February 15, 2001
“Genetic manipulation or information manipulation?” Presentation at a meeting of the Rural Media Association of South Australia. Features a representative of the Commonwealth Government agency, Biotechnology Australia.
Information: Visit RMA web site via the ACDC “Related Links” page.


Seen any self-glowing Christmas trees during this season?

We haven’t seen any yet, despite the fact that the Globe and Mail newspaper alerted us a year ago to their development by British genetic engineers. According to the news report, “Genes that give fireflies their fire and jellyfish their light would be inserted into the tree’s DNA. The hoped-for result: a tree that fluoresces all night long.”


Best regards and good searching.

Please pass along your reactions, questions and ideas for ACDC. Feel free to invite our help as you search for information. And please suggest (or send) agricultural communications documents that we might add to this collection. We welcome documents in hard copy or electronic forms. Thank you.

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