ACDC News – Issue 01-04

Our food is safe. Theirs isn’t.

This kind of message from food suppliers is a recipe for a general loss of consumer confidence, according to a study reported recently in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. Researchers from Justus-Liebig-University in Germany examined how trust in food suppliers influences consumer response to food scares and food safety crises. Findings led them to conclude: “In their attempt to create trust, suppliers should not discriminate competitors on the grounds of food safety, while highlighting their own reliability. As this will increase the perceived discrepancy between different supplier types, consumer confidence and thus purchase probability will be greatly reduced in case of a food safety crisis.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Confidence lost and – partially – regained”) or author search (Hanf) for the full citation, including URL for online access.

What’s up in development-related communicating?

Here are titles of a few of the documents added recently to the ACDC collection about the communications aspects of agricultural and rural development in various parts of the world:

  • “Information technology (IT) in developing nations”
  • “Emerging new models for agricultural communication in Russia”
  • “Connecting Bangladeshi villages”
  • “Folk and traditional media for rural development: a workshop held in Malawi”
  • “Report of the first consultation on agricultural information management” (FAO/UN)
  • “Comics with an attitude”
  • “Validating farmers’ indigenous social networks for local seed supply in central rift valley of Ethiopia”

Reference: Use a subject search on the term < “development communication” > to identify these and more than 350 other documents under that search term.

Big Web gain for cooperative communicating.

The January issue of the Cooperative Communicators Association (CCA) newsletter reflects excitement about recent approval of .coop as one of seven new top level domains (TLD) on the Internet. National Cooperative Business Association promoted this decision successfully before the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in the face of stiff competition (180 proposed TLDs). “The .coop designation will provide enormous educational opportunities,” explains columnist Jill Stevenson.

Reference: Use a title search (“.coop gets ICANN approval”) or author search (Stevenson) for the full citation. Details are available online at

A scientist’s view of media coverage.

Here’s the counsel of a United Kingdom GMO scientist to students about what will happen if they follow a career in science and attract the attention of the media:

“Expect your careful work to be trivialised or misrepresented.”

Reference: Use a title search (“GM referee on the ball in media scrum”) or author search (Grose) for the full citation, including URL for online access.

“Responding to media cheap shots”

Is the title of a recently entered paper that features media experiences of the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST). Written 18 years ago, it touches on media coverage of issues (such as pesticide use, fertilization and pollution) that remain active. And the procedures described for responding to “media cheap shots” also remain relevant.

Reference: Use a title search (above) or author search (Hutchcroft) for the full title.

How privatization of agricultural information affects sharing among farmers.

Are farmers who purchase private information willing to share it with other farmers in their communities? Does increased use of private information sources (farm data services, market advisory services, private consultants, the Internet, crop scouting and others) influence traditional ways of thinking about diffusion of information among farmers? A recent survey among 730 Illinois farmers by Mohamed M. Samy and colleagues revealed that “a relatively small share of farmers who purchased private information are sharing it with other farmers.”

Reference: Use a title search (“The privatization of information”) or author search (Samy) for the full citation, including URL for online access.

Role of scientists and industry declining in news coverage about GM foods.

Research findings reported during January point to this phenomenon, as well as to the increasing role of activist groups. Eric Abbott and co-researchers at Iowa State University content analyzed three major U.S. and British newspapers to assess coverage about genetically modified crops between 1997 and 2000. They examined changes in topic, tone and sources across what they identified as triggering or hoopla periods of news coverage. Findings revealed that the newspapers quoted scientists in only about 17 percent of stories, less than half as often as activist groups. And the two British papers showed significantly reductions during the period in their use of scientists as sources.

Reference: Use a title search (“Handling of GM crop issues by the mass media”) or author search (Abbott) for the full citation.

In memory of a pioneer farm broadcaster.

The passing of Herb Plambeck during January prompts us to join others in expressing appreciation for his contributions as a preeminent farm broadcaster in the U.S. He was reported to be the first full-time farm broadcaster hired by a commercial station when he joined Radio Station WHO, Des Moines, Iowa, on August 26, 1936. He also was a founder and second president of the National Association of Radio Farm Directors (now the National Association of Farm Broadcasters) during his 34 years with that clear-channel station. An active agricultural journalist until his death at age 92, he took “greatest pride in being known as ‘the voice of the family farm.'”

Reference: Use title searches (“Farm broadcaster dies” or “Greenlee school honors ‘voice of the family farm'”) for biographical information. Also, an author search (Plambeck) will identify some of his writings.

Useful resources online for teaching agricultural communications.

On the Web you can see syllabi for nearly 20 U.S. college courses about agriculture-related communicating. They are available through efforts of the Academic Special Interest Group of the Agricultural Communicators in Education (ACE) organization. The syllabi cover subjects such as writing, oral communication, electronic media production, publication layout and design, Web design, information technology, rural-urban interactions and international study – all taught within the context of agriculture, food and natural resources.


Approaching professional event.

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

April 11-13, 2001
“Reaching New Heights.” 2001 Agri-Marketing Conference and Trade Show, Denver, Colorado. Sponsored by National Agri-Marketing Association.

April 22-24, 2001
Meeting of North American Agricultural Journalists in Washington, D.C.
Information: Kathleen Phillips at

April 22-25, 2001
“Mystery, Mastery and the Muse: a Writing Workshop.” Workshop sponsored by Agricultural Communicators in Education (ACE) at Iowa State University,Ames.

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 them in hard copy (sent to Ag Com Documentation Center, 69 Mumford Hall, University of Illinois, 1301 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL 61801) or electronic form ( Thank you.

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