ACDC News – Issue 01-06

Salmon farming: media coverage in controversy.

ACDC has added several news reports about a controversial television co-production aired recently in Canada and the United Kingdom. This one-hour program – “Warnings from the wild – the price of salmon” – became controversial when BBC aired its version early in January. The program included allegations about farmed salmon containing higher levels of PCB and dioxins than wild salmon. Amid the controversy, the Canadian Broadcasting Company version was delayed until February 14. According to follow-up coverage in Fish Information and Services World News, the CBC program “took shots at the Canadian and UK salmon-farming industries.but reserved its more heavy-calibre rounds for federal regulatory agencies.”

Reference: Use a subject search (fish “food safety”) for the full citations, including URL for online access.

U.S. farm broadcasters change their market reporting strategies.

As farmers and ranchers change their marketing and information-gathering strategies, what kinds of market information should farm broadcasters provide? An article in National Association of Farm Broadcasters Chats newsletter describes some ways in which farm broadcasters are changing their approaches. Examples:

  • More analysis (“Pick up where the market report ends.”)
  • More pinpointing of local prices
  • End-of-week roundtables to analyze market-driving issues
  • Adding loan rates to daily reports

Reference: Use a title search (“Information means nothing, intelligence is everything”) or author search (Hubbard) for the full citation. Check the Chats page on the NAFB web site for online access.

What kinds of market price forecasts help producers most?

According to results of an analysis reported in the Review of Agricultural Economics, hog producers gain much more from forecasts of average (mean) prices than of likely ranges in price. Specifically, the researchers found that: “Improved information about the mean of the price distribution is worth about ten times as much as improved information about its volatility.”

Reference: Use a title search (“The value of information to hedgers”) or an author search (Adam) for the full citation.

Three ways ITC might help developing countries.

A report from the International Labor Organization of the United Nations describes three major types of gains that information and communication technologies (ITC) may offer to developing countries:

  • “.countries with the right mix of skills, infrastructure, and policies could become important locations in global markets for intangible products or ICT products generally.”
  • “.acceleration of development can occur through the leapfrogging potentials inherent in technologies, where leapfrogging is defined as the ability to bypass earlier investments in the time or cost of development.”
  • “To the extent that ITC can improve aggregate economic growth, this could generate linkages to activities that provide livelihoods for those who are poor.”

Reference: Use a title search (“World Employment Report 2001: Life at Work in the Information Economy”) for the full citation, including URL for online access.

Fifth survey: U.S. consumers and biotechnology.

The International Food Information Council recently announced results of its fifth survey on U.S. consumer perspectives about food biotechnology. Wirthlin Worldwide conducted 1,000 telephone interviews in January 2001 among a national probability sample of Americans 18 years and older. Findings help track trends since 1997 in aspects such as awareness of biotechnology and knowledge levels, attitudes, concerns and intentions regarding it. IFIC programs are supported by the food, beverage and agriculture industries.

Reference: Use an author search (International Food Information Council) for the full February 2001 citation, including URL for online access.

Trends in agriculture: results of Gallup Poll 2000.

This survey involved 1,218 large agricultural producers across the U.S. Respondents rated emerging agricultural technologies, evaluated the industries that provide farmers and ranchers with products and services, and reported on related topics such as their mood about farming today and the sources they use for obtaining information and making purchases. The study was funded by APA: Association of Leading Ag Media Companies and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, with support from the Alpha Zeta Foundation. Thanks to APA for providing a copy of the report to the Center.

Reference: Use an author search (Gallup Organization) for the full citation. Further information also is available on the APA site that you can reach through the “Useful Links” page of this ACDC web site.

Shallow coverage: media going along with biotech “posturing and grandstanding.”

 An author in the BioMedNet Magazine, HMS Beagle, recently examined media coverage of the debate on genetically modified foods. He observed in this recent addition to the ACDC collection: “Although real scientific questions exist surrounding the debate.most media coverage has lacked this focus. Instead the media has taken the opportunity to join in the posturing and grandstanding favored by supporters and opponents of GM food.” His analysis included examples.

Reference: Use a title search (“Food court”) or author search (Segal-Isaacson) for the full citation, including URL for online access.

Wasting valuable time.

Those who chide scientists for bringing a condescending spirit to their interactions with the public might find support in this recent comment from a university scientist:

“The (new online information) project enables scientists to communicate to a broader audience without wasting valuable time.”

When non-farming neighbors have concerns: Speak up? To whom?

What happens when non-farming neighbors have concerns about nearby farming operations? A study reported recently in the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation assessed the feelings and responses of 601 neighbors to mushroom farmers in Pennsylvania. Twenty-three percent had a concern about mushroom farms. Of those, about one-half voiced their concern to someone – most often to other neighbors. They were least likely to voice concern directly to the mushroom farmers.

Revealingly, non-farm neighbors who voiced concern directly to farmers were the most likely to feel steps were taken to remedy their concerns. Authors concluded that more direct communicating between farmers and their neighbors will help reduce conflict and improve relations.

Reference: Use a title search (“Farming and non farming neighbors”) or author search (Kelsey) for the full citation.

Will bans on tobacco advertising reduce tobacco consumption? 

Probably not, according to H. Saffer and F. Chaloupka in a Journal of Health Economics article added recently to the ACDC collection. Results of their research involving data from 22 countries suggested that “comprehensive advertising bans can reduce tobacco consumption, but.a limited set of advertising bans will have little or no effect. A limited set of advertising bans will not reduce the total level of advertising expenditure but will simply result in substitution to the remaining non-banned media.”

Reference: Use a title search (“The effect of tobacco advertising bans”) or author search (Saffer) for the full citation, including URL for online access.

“Throne-speech promise” 

That’s the eye-catching expression used in a recent Canadian newspaper article about genetically modified foods. The reporter cited a university researcher who “cast doubt on.the viability of a throne-speech promise to require labelling of genetically engineered foods.”

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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