ACDC News – Issue 04-04

“Mad cow” stirs news and views from interest groups.  

It was easy to see competing interest groups offer divergent views after the discovery of a case of “mad cow” disease in the United States. Three examples from many:

  • The Center for Consumer Freedom (supported by the food industry, restaurants and interested consumers) expressed concern that “radical social activists” would exaggerate the risk of this discovery and use it to “steer Americans toward organic meat.”
  • “Organic beef – it’s what’s safe for dinner!” announced a news release from an organic beef marketer. “Organic beef is the safer option for families concerned abut Mad Cow Disease.” Posted December 31, 2003, on
  • “Organic Trade Association reminds consumers that organic beef is a smart choice.” Posted January 5, 2004, onhttp://

Want to find more about “mad cow” communicating?  

On the “Database Search” page of this web site, you can find dozens of other articles, reports and consumer survey summaries about it. Conduct “Subject” searches and cross-searches, using terms such as:

“mad cow”
diseases beef
“food safety” beef
attitudes beef

Lots of agricultural advertisements  

If you are interested in agricultural advertising you may be pleased with a rich resource that could well be new to you. Recently, we added two interesting links through the ACDC web site:

  • Agricultural advertising collection. Thousands of ads featuring agricultural equipment, dairy products, chemicals, farm papers and other agricultural themes are part of the D’Arcy Collection at the University of Illinois. This collection, maintained by the Communications Library, includes almost two million original advertisements published between 1890 and 1970.
  • Agricultural advertising exhibit. See 20 images of agricultural and food advertisements in the University of Illinois Advertising Exhibit. The exhibit, organized within 17 subject themes, features advertisements selected from the D’Arcy and Woodward Collections.

Reference: See these sites on the “Useful Links” page of this ACDC web site.

Needed: more than hard-systems thinking.  

There is no holistic planning of the rural telecommunications system in terms of rural development, according to a study by T.N. Andrew and D. Petkov.

“The planning process and techniques used are very much based on the assumptions of systems engineering and hard operations research,” they observed. They called for more consideration of “softer issues such as cultural diversity, ownership of the system and user inclusivity, negotiations with multiple stakeholders and a firm grasp of socio-economic issues” that are “just as important as hard technological issues.”

Reference: Use a title search (Need for a systems thinking approach) or author search (Andrew) for the full citation.

For example, look at the adoption of rural telephony 

Claude S. Fischer found a strong “human agency” in his analysis of the diffusion of the telephone in rural and urban areas of the U.S. between 1900 and 1920.

Farmers loudly demanded this new technology, he found, even when vendors said it was inappropriate for them. “They demanded it vociferously enough to build it themselves, to adopt it at a higher rate than did the ‘natural’ market of city-dwellers, and later to pester the major telephone companies through the regulatory commissions and politicians. And they insisted on using it in their own way, to meet their own needs, be it for gossip or banjo concerts, rather than fit ‘appropriate’ uses.” In 1920, more American farm families (39 percent) had telephones than did town families (33 percent or less).

Reference: Use a title search (Revolution in rural telephony) or author search (Fischer) for the full citation.

Rural ruckus over radio station ownership rule  

A recent article in the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (Cheyenne, Wyoming) examined the debate that has arisen since the Federal Communications Act eased restrictions on radio station ownership.

“…the biggest impact of concentration of radio station ownership is not in the major metropolitan markets,” the Center for Public Integrity was cited as saying. “…it is far greater in smaller communities in rural areas.”

Other sources described advantages of greater concentration in station ownership. Among them was an executive of Clear Channel Communications Inc., which now owns about 1,200 stations nationwide.

Reference: Use a title search (Radio station ownership rule) or author search (Lowell) for the full citation.

New GMO musical  

How about dining on a fishikin – a creature that looks like a fish, but tastes like a chicken? Or adopting a de-Cat – a kitten that does not claw, meow or shed? A “fantastical, quirky world where all things are scientifically possible” is featured in an original musical play in Canada about the perils of genetic modification. It is a creative approach to communicating about biotechnology.

According to a report in the Ottawa Citizen, playwright Michael Larrass was inspired to write the play through his volunteer work with Food Action Ottawa. Timothy Piper composed the music.

Reference: Use a title search (Genetic science offers something to sing about) or author search (Lawson) for the full citation. The article was archived (December 17, 2003) at

“Back off the hi-tech lingo.”  

That advice to agricultural scientists came from agricultural journalist Tom Bechman in a recent issue of Prairie Farmer magazine. “Otherwise, how will we ever know when they find something really important?”

He was referring to new terms popping up in research studies – terms such as “ionomics” and “proteomics.” Bechman observed to his rural readers, “Let’s hope universities and USDA don’t forget about your everyday world, the world where you struggle to make a profit with today’s technology.”

Reference: Use a title search (How much science) or author search (Bechman) for the full citation

Over the 25,000 mark  

It is a special pleasure to report that the ACDC collection now contains more than 25,000 documents, all identifiable through online searching. We topped that mark on February 13 and are headed toward new levels in efforts to serve. The total, large as it looks to those of us who have assembled it, is actually modest. We are learning that communications aspects of the agriculture/food enterprise, globally, are much more extensive, documented and vital to societies than was apparent when agricultural communications faculty members here at the University of Illinois began this collection effort.

Communicator activities approaching:

March 12-19, 2004
World Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists in South Africa. The Congress starts in the north (Mabalingwe Nature Reserve) and ends south in Cape Town.

April 14-16, 2004
“Make Your Mark.” 2004 Agri-Marketing Conference and Trade Show in Kansas City, Missouri.

April 30-May 1, 2004
Annual meeting of Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) in Seattle, Washington.

Best regards and good searching.  

Please pass along your reactions, suggestions 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. Send

  • hard copies to:
    Ag Com Documentation Center
    510 LIAC Library
    1101 S. Goodwin Avenue
    Urbana, IL 61801
  • or electronic copies to:

February 2004

Updated on