ACDC News – Issue 01-05

“Land grants under siege” is the title of an article in the February issue of Successful Farming magazine.

It summarizes some criticisms of land grant institutions and reports suggestions that involve levels and sources of funding, priorities for research and education, and mechanisms for involving the public more actively.

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

No help from university research.

Interviews among certified organic farmers in Illinois prompted researcher L. A. Duram to report in a recent issue of Agriculture and Human Values: “.many farmers noted that information on organic methods is not available through typical agricultural agencies. They claim that university research provides no help regarding their farming techniques.”

Reference: Use author search (Duram) for the full citation.

A similar concern has been posted recently by the Organic Farming Research Foundation.

It compiled the “first comprehensive listing of organic research projects underway at the nation’s 67 land grant schools.” Findings revealed only 151 acres (0.02%) of the 886,863 available research acres in the land grant system devoted to certified organic research.

Reference: Use a title search (“Land grant colleges failing organic farmers”) for the full citation, including URL for online access.

Another call for active listening – in risk communication.

In an article published recently by the Canadian Journal of Animal Science, Douglas Powell highlighted some perils of poor risk communication involving food safety. He noted that it is “incumbent on the message provider of risk messages to determine how a specific target audience receives and perceives risk communication.” And he cites examples of failures to do so. He doesn’t get into the question of why providers of risk messages so often bypass this vital step of listening to intended audiences before creating and sending messages.

Reference: Use a title search (“Food safety and the consumer”) or author search (Powell) for the full citation, including URL for online access.

BSE: risks of the siege mentality.

An article from cautions about the communications risks of siege thinking as new discoveries about bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease) make headlines around the world: “Beef industry executives, from beef producers to beef packers to processors, would be justified in feeling under siege. But they’d be making a big mistake by responding to the situation from a siege mentality.” The author offers suggestions for communicating in this environment. Another related article added recently to the ACDC collection tracks “A decade of denial: chronology of the mad cow cover-up” in the United Kingdom.

Reference: Use title searches (“Perspective: fighting BSE in the United States” and “A decade of denial”) for the full citations, including URLs for online access.

Who will serve rural America?

That is the title of a white paper published last year by the National Telephone Cooperative Association. It cites evidence that the large phone companies will not furnish state-of-the-art technologies throughout rural America for advanced telecommunications and information capabilities. “.the relative parity of urban and rural areas in terms of quality and price of services, appears to be slipping. However, the relative success of small providers compared with larger providers in rural areas remains evident.

“While the current industry trend is consolidation by the large providers, there has also been a significant divestiture of rural serving areas by these providers. This makes small rural telecommunications providers even more critical to the future of rural areas.”

Reference: Use a title search (above) for the full citation, including URL for online access.

Least connected.

Following are profiles of groups found to be “least connected” when the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration collected data in 1997:

  • Rural poor. Rural households earning less than $10,000 or less a year had the lowest telephone penetration rates (74.4%), PC ownership rates (7.9%) and on-line access rates (2.3%).
  • Rural and central city minorities. African American, Hispanic and other minority households were least likely to have telephone service in rural areas (64.3-85%). African Americans had the lowest PC ownership rates (14.9%) and on-line access (5.5%) in rural areas.
  • Young (below age 25), rural, low-income households. They had telephone penetration rates of 65.4% and PC ownership rates of 15.5%.
  • Single-parent, female-headed households. They had telephone penetration rates of 86.3%, PC ownership rates of 25% and on-line access rates of 9.2%.

Reference: Use a title search (“Falling through the net II”) for the full reference, including URL for online access.

Few rural communities poised for the information superhighway.

A news report from Ag eConference 2001 contains the observation that “few rural communities are poised to take advantage” of new information technologies coming available to them. This observation came from a representative of one rural telecommunications provider, Prairie iNet. The community development director for the Kansas Department of Community and Housing echoed this concern: “Technology poses a threat for rural communities trying to retain existing businesses, but it also represents the greatest opportunity for rural America to grow.” The conference, sponsored by Equity Consultants, Inc. (ECI), took place recently in Kansas City, Missouri.

Reference: Use a title search (“Ag eConference 2001 sends a clear message”) for the full citation, including URL for online access.

Thanks to “Passionate Pennsylvanian” 

for emphasizing (in response to our question about what documents to collect) that: “Each document should be evaluated on its merits.” And he adds an important dimension. Our question was focused on research information that scholarly journals might publish or not publish. However, “Passionate Pennsylvanian” points to the value of other kinds, forms and sources of information:

“Lots of bright farmers don’t publish, but they may have valuable insights. Does your position mean, for instance, that you would not include minutes of significant Grange meetings, conventions, or town meetings in New England? Jim Carey’s notion of journalism as democracy is off the mark. Democracy is America talking to itself. Journalism is what gets into the papers or media. What about oral history? What about stories aborigines tell? What about black agriculture that was never reported years ago?”

The answer: Yes, we would include it

If it deals with the communications aspects of agriculture, food, natural resources and rural affairs. Some information centers exclude or minimize the collection of “nonconventional” or “gray” material. We value it, for some of the same reasons that “Passionate Pennsylvanian” describes. Other thoughts?

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.

Updated on