“With farm-media relations already at a low ebb, industry insiders believe there may be worse to come,” Owen Roberts wrote in a recent issue of Better Farming (Ontario, Canada). “That makes communications strategies and media relations more important than ever.”
The article described recent examples of libel suits and media criticisms of farming methods. It cited concerns about future antagonisms that new technologies such as nutraceuticals could create. And it described several efforts being launched, including speak-up groups, media relations initiatives and communications training for producers and others.
That advice emerged from a study reported recently in the Journal of Extension. Research among Oklahoma (USA) farmers who use and do not use the Extension Service analyzed their preferred information sources and identified effective means of communicating with non-users.
Researchers concluded, “CES [Cooperative Extension Service] should invest more resources to advertise programs and literature using public forums that reach a larger audience than is currently served. It is the land-grant university’s responsibility to reach non CES users farmers through whatever means necessary to fulfill the mission of the Morrill Act.”
The Agriculture Network Information Center (AgNIC) consortium recently prepared a white paper identifying roles and opportunities for collaboration between the E-Extension development effort and AgNIC.
“The purpose of this paper is to suggest that these two groups have a considerable body of common interest. Further, that by working together where there are overlapping interests it is possible to create a Digital Land Grant Information System.”
Reference: Use a title search (Digital land grant information system) or author search (Gardner) for the full citation. The paper was posted on: http://laurel.nal.usda.gov:8080/agnic/members/mgardner/news_item.2004-01-23.3210
The Kyrgyzstan Land Reform Project is getting valuable guidance from research among those on the land. We recently added to the ACDC collection a report of findings about knowledge levels, attitudes and practices of farmers and rural leaders regarding land rights issues. Eric Abbott of Iowa State University designed the study, conducted during early 2004, through a Chemonics International project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Results helped assess the impact of a first phase of the Land Reform Project. In addition, findings identified the kinds of information that farmers need next in their efforts to “take advantage of one’s ownership of land or the ability to acquire additional land.”
Reference: Use a title search (Knowledge, attitudes and practices) or author search (Abbott) for the full citation
An article by Mike Kempiak and Mark A. Fox summarized some findings of research reported about this topic during 2000 to 2002. Among the main concerns that consumers identified at this stage of e-grocery shopping:
- Quality of produce
- Delivery – timeliness, convenience, methods
- Desire to see and touch the food bought
- Online security and privacy
- Download time of graphic displays
Authors also examined experiences and trends in e-grocery business models, ranging from pure-play online stores to e-marketing by established bricks-and-mortar supermarkets.
“That question, headlined in California Agriculture magazine, highlighted the fact that biotech horticultural crops have “all but disappeared” from supermarkets in the U.S. This brief article reported how field testing of genetically engineered horticultural crops has plummeted while field crops – such as soybeans, corn, canola and cotton – have been “wildly successful.”
Peck urged journalists to interact and engage with their communities of interest. “We can no longer put out newspapers by phone, e-mail, government reports and unnamed sources,” even in an era of corporate pressures to write “really, really fast.” Peck illustrated the growing complexity of issues by observing, “the ag beat isn’t about tractors anymore but about biogenetic engineering.”
Findings of a recent content analysis show that broadcast and print media portray “vastly different images of rural America.” Among the results:
- More than three-fourths of network television news stories about rural America focused on crime.
- Land use issues such as urban sprawl received the most attention in major newspapers and news magazines “while television ignored these issues entirely.”
- News reports in print or in television rarely linked rural life to agriculture.
- “Currier and Ives-like portrayals of rural charm were balanced by depictions of an economically challenged or socially marginal environment.”
“I believe that’s hard to replace,” said Jeff Nalley, president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters, in a recent report to U.S. soybean growers about the role of farm broadcasting. Pointing to an increasing flow of agricultural information, he observed:
“It’s true that there are volumes of information available on the internet today, but what farmer has the time to sit and read for hours on end? That’s my job. I believe they need someone that they can trust, who understands what their needs are, who can go and find that information and present it to them in a concise and a timely fashion. …I believe farm broadcasting is a trusted source of information that producers are actually going to need more as this industry continues to evolve.”
Reference: Use a title search (Q&A with Jeff Nalley) for the full citation.
We close this issue of ACDC News with a livestock question. It came to our attention through the custodians of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, with which you may be familiar. Here’s the interview question that a sports writer of the Press-Democrat (Sonoma County, California) put to Jeff Kent, second baseman of the San Francisco Giants in March 2001:
“How does a kid from Huntington Beach wind up castrating cows in South Texas?”:
You can see dozens more featured examples of bad published writing at www.bulwer-lytton.com/sticks.htm. Fortunately, most of them do not involve agriculture.
September 26-29, 2004
“Tippecanoe and Technology Too.” National Extension Technology Conference (NETC) will take place at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.
September 30-October 3, 2004
Annual meeting of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation in Windsor, Ontario.
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: