ACDC News – Issue 02-14

Report of the petrified pony.

Humor has long been a tradition in rural journalism. It was evident, for example, in a 1896 article about a petrified pony. According to this report, which appeared in Farm and Field, Denver, two cowboys on a cattle roundup in the Texas panhandle noticed that “their tired ponies neighed and whinnied as if they were aware of the presence of another animal.” Indeed, nearby they discovered a broncho standing tethered to a bush at the summit of a little knoll. “The pony was petrified, not a hair or hoof amiss.”

Reference: We didn’t enter this report into the ACDC collection, but can direct you to it. See Agricultural History 31(4) : 33 (October 1957). Please feel free to pass along other examples of rural humor, especially as it involves communicating.

What producers can gain in $$ from using weather information.

Research by the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction suggests that farmers’ use of climate forecasts related to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) offers financial value. At a recent outlook conference, James Hansen of the Institute reported these results of retrospective decision analyses:

  • Use of ENSO information on small-to-medium-sized field crop farms in southern Georgia offered a potential value of $4-6 per hectare.
  • The potential value of such information when used for corn and wheat management on such farms was about $5-15 per hectare.
  • In south Florida, producers who based planting decisions for winter-grown tomatoes on ENSO phases could increase average income by about $800 per hectare.

“Results of these and other similar studies are still quite tentative,” Hansen said. “.Nevertheless, our analytical studies and interactions with agricultural decision makers have convinced us that viable options do exist for using climate forecasts to improve farm decision making.” Such findings add to the ACDC collection of more than 150 documents about the economic value of agricultural information.

Reference: Use a title search (“Use of climate forecasts”) or author search (Hansen) for the full citation. The report was posted on:

“Agriculture needs honest comment.” 

Anthony Rosen of Britain suggested in a recent issue of IFAJ News (International Federation of Agricultural Journalists) that agricultural journalists face three major “uncertainties – or perhaps, challenges:”

  1. Contraction of agricultural publications and the subsequent limitation on advertising revenues.
  2. “.interference by proprietorial influences, usually politically inspired, which may oblige journalists to follow a specific line whatever their own beliefs.”
  3. “.the sad demise of the journalistic commentator who is, all too frequently, being replaced by the simple reporter.” Rosen argued that “The agricultural industry is entitled to expect its journalists to do more than simply report, even if word perfectly, the statements of the politicians and farm leaders.”

Reference: Use a title search (“Introspect”) or author search (Rosen) for the full citation. The commentary was posted on:

Three philosophies of rural communicating. 

In his book, Go to the people, James Mayfield discussed three approaches to communicating with the rural poor:

  1. One-way system of communication. “It is quite common in a bureaucratic environment for communication to be based upon a one-way system in which orders are given, plans presented, requirements announced, procedures established, and goals defined with little or no feedback from those receiving them.”
  2. Two-way system of communication. “Administrative systems seeking to improve their communication networks often adopt a two-way method that requires the receiving elements to acknowledge their understanding and awareness of the orders, plans, or procedures in order to give the sender of the directive some confirmation that the message has been understood.”
  3. Shared awareness system of communication. “.a more profound level of communication” that “requires extensive staff training in team building, interpersonal skill development, conflict resolution, problem identification, and role negotiation skills.”

He cited experiences in various countries suggesting that “rural development facilitators can have their effectiveness greatly increased both in terms of working together and in terms of working with farmers.”

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

Fitting digital technology into development is the focus of Communication, technology and the development of people, a book that we added recently to the ACDC collection.

Drawing upon experience with the World Bank, author Bernard Woods sketched the inadequacies of approaches that treat people largely as means to development (rather than the focus of it) and define it in terms of economic growth. He discussed neglect of the communication sector in conventional approaches to development, outlined and encouraged the development of digital development systems for public use, and suggested a new framework (decentralized, cross-sectoral, interactive) for thinking about the human dimension of development.

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

Shift from hardware to human beings.

 Woods’ emphasis on people-centered paradigms for development echoes a conclusion by Usha Vyasulu Reddi in Rethinking development communication. Reddi concluded, “Unless the focus on the use of communication technologies shifts from the hardware to human beings and the society it is meant to improve, we shall not be able to deal with basic issues.” Otherwise, according to Reddi, these technologies will result in widened economic and knowledge gaps between the haves and have-nots, centralized control of technology and information in traditional world centers, cultural imperialism and other problems.

Reference: Use a title search (“New communication technologies”) or author search (Reddi) for the full citation.

Early, early radio featured fruit.

Reports about the pioneer days of rural radio broadcasting in the U.S. usually begin with the early 1920s. Actually, a chronology in the book Stay tuned traces it to at least as early as 1904. In that year, United Fruit Company began to “build its network of radio stations in Central America and Caribbean countries to coordinate banana shipping.”

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

New report examines rural-urban common ground.

“Urban and agricultural communities: opportunities for common ground” is the title of a new 124-page report from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), Ames, Iowa. A 12-scientist task force pursued two objectives:

  • “.to move our thinking beyond agriculture’s traditional production and rural roots focus, and.”
  • “.to identify components of contemporary agriculture that can be a resource for civic leaders and planners who are challenged by issues of sprawl, vacant city lots, public desire for safe local food, and community livability.”

Authors identified possible initiatives in public policy, planning, higher education, research and partnerships/collaboration.

Reference: Use a title search (above) for the full citation. The report was posted at:

  Professional activities approaching.

September 6-8, 2002
Meeting of North American Agricultural Journalists at St. Paul, Minnesota.

September 12-14, 2002
“The Atlantic Odyssey.” Annual meeting of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation at Fredericton, New Brunswick.
Information: www.cfwf.caBack to top

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 unique collection. We welcome them in hard copy (sent to Ag Com Documentation Center, 69 Mumford Hall, 1301 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL 61801) or electronic form (

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