ACDC News – Issue 04-16


Internet competing with traditional farm media?

Not necessarily, according to results of a study reported (2000) in International Food and Agribusiness Management Review. Researchers examined the use of information sources through a mail survey of 10,500 farms with sales in excess of $100,000. They reported:

“…Internet use tends to be associated with producers who have more favorable views of information sources. In five different models, Internet use increased the probability that producers had a favorable view of the information source. Based on these results, it appears that the Internet might be a complement rather than a substitute for traditional information sources, or an indicator of producers who find traditional information sources useful. Likewise, crop farms and livestock farms tend to have different attitudes toward information sources”

Reference: On the “Database Search” page of this web site, use a title search (Sources of information) or author search (Gloy) for the full citation. The article was posted online at:

On suppressing dissent about pesticides.

An analysis reported in Philosophy and Social Action examined the exercise of power by supporters of pesticides to silence and discredit scientist critics. Brian Martin presented several cases of attacks on critics of pesticides as illustrations of the concept of “suppression of dissent.”

“It is impossible to say how great an effect suppression of dissent has upon any particular debate, because few studies have been made of the phenomenon and it is difficult to know how deeply the patterns of power, of which suppression is a reflection, affect scientific work. In a scientific culture in which dissent is systematically discouraged, prohibition may become internalized as inhibition…. There is plenty of evidence to show that power politics does play a major role in the operations of science, but in science textbooks and media reporting this is still seen as an aberration rather than a regular occurrence.”

Reference: Use a title search (Critics of pesticides) or author search (Martin) for the full citation. The article was posted online at:

Using producer focus groups to guide information programs. 

Through input to focus groups, Iowa grain and livestock producers offered 10 suggestions for helping them make informed decisions about fertilizer and pesticide use that would offer environmental benefits. We have added to the ACDC collection an 11-page summary of procedures and findings.

Recommendations from producers identified message content they need, plus information channels and information delivery methods they prefer. Other findings provided insights about how producers make decisions in balancing efficiency of crop production and environmental benefits. Results of these four focus groups offered guidance for an Integrated Farm and Livestock Management Demonstration Program in Iowa.

Reference: Use a title search (Producer focus groups) or author search (Schultz) for the full citation. The report was posted online at:

Offer alternative names.

Commenting about the role of citizens in agricultural science, Elizabeth Ann R. Bird observed:

“What you name something is important…What you name it in the context of scientific inquiry is going to shape both that inquiry and the results. So one of the ways to engage the politics of science is to figure out where the values are implicit and how things are named, and to offer alternative names.” For example:

” Is manure a waste to be disposed of or, instead, a resource to be used?
” Is sustainable farming an added labor cost or a resource that producers can use to gain more value from their farms while reducing input costs?

Reference: Use a title search (What is the role of citizens) or author search (Bird) for the full citation. The presentation was posted online

Attitudes toward functional health properties of GM foods.

Results of a consumer survey in Canada suggest, “…many Canadian consumers will avoid GM foods, regardless of the presence of functional health properties.” Findings reported in the Agribusiness article also revealed that consumers seem more accepting of functional foods derived from genetically modified plants than from genetically modified animals.

Reference: Use a title search (Consumer response to functional foods) or author search (Larue) for the full citation.

Don’t try to fit every dairy farmer into a single system.

University of Wisconsin Extension heard that advice from Wisconsin dairy producers who took part in focus groups. A summary of results (2000) revealed that producers recognize the University as a unique source of unbiased, high quality information.

However, producers recommended that Extension pay more attention to the needs of small and medium-sized dairy farm operators and cautioned against “trying to fit everyone into a single model of dairy farming.” They also invited help in developing better marketing skills and options.

Reference: Use a title search (Farmer recommendations) or author search (Ostrom) for the full citation. The summary was posted online

Sincere thanks to Elena Padilla who served as graduate assistant in the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center during the past year. 

This month Elena completed her master’s degree in library and information science, so will be embarking on a new phase of her career. As academic coordinator of the Center, she spearheaded an excellent year of progress in adding documents, processing newly contributed collections, enhancing the web site, and settling into our new home in the ACES Funk Library.

Communicator activities approaching

September 26-29, 2004
“Tippecanoe and Technology Too.” National Extension Technology Conference
(NETC) at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.

September 29-October 2, 2004
Annual conference of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation in Windsor,

October 17-20, 2004
Annual convention of Communication Officers of State Departments of
Agriculture (COSDA) in Nashville, Tennessee.

October 20-24, 2004
Annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists in
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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:

September 2004

Updated on