ACDC News – Issue 04-19


Stirring extension in Australia.

Thanks to staff associate Liz Kellaway for alerting us to a journal article that has stirred discussion in Australia about ingredients of effective agricultural extension. In the Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture researcher F. Vanclay described 27 principles for agricultural extension in promoting natural resource management. It’s a hard-hitting list, including these examples:

• Non-adoption is not the cause of land degradation, rather practices actively promoted by extension in the past have significantly contributed to degradation.
• Farming is a socio-cultural practice and adoption is a socio-cultural process. • Profit is not the main driving force of farmers.
• Farmers’ attitudes are not the problem.
• Farmers construct their own knowledge.
• Farmers have legitimate reasons for non-adoption.
• Effective extension requires more than the transfer of technology; it requires an understanding of the worldviews of farmers.
• The 80-20 rule is a self-serving delusion. (referring to a story in extension circles that 20% of farmers produce 80% of the agricultural wealth).
• Representation is not participation.
• The best method of extension is multiple methods.

Reference: Social principles Author: Vanclay, F.

New book about North American agricultural journalists.

Fencelines, deadlines & headlines is the title of a new book in honor of the 50th anniversary of the national professional association now known as North American Agricultural Journalists (NAAJ). Don Muhm, a veteran agricultural reporter, coordinated and published this 240-page history. It ranges broadly across the development of NAAJ, the careers of legendary agricultural writers, ethics in agricultural reporting, global dimensions, the farm beat today and the challenges ahead.

“Today in this world, all of us are connected through our food supply,” said 2003 NAAJ President Jerry Perkins. In that context, Muhm suggested that having on duty a corps of educated, responsible agricultural reporters is vital to helping understand our modern, one-world society.

Reference: Fencelines, deadlines & headlines
Author: Muhm, Don
The book is printed by and available from McMillen Publishing, PO Box 887, Ames, Iowa 50010.

Consulting communicators.

A ground swell of interest? Professional communicators who work within extension services, advisory services and agricultural research organizations have talked about the “consulting communicator” role for at least a half-century. You will find, for example, dozens of documents about this role if you conduct a “subject” search on that term in the ACDC collection. They stretch from 1954 to date. And you can find hundreds of documents about related topics, using “subject” search terms such as <roles communicators>, “communication planning” and “campaign planning.”

Two 1976 reports we added recently to the ACDC collection noted “a ground swell” for training programs in basic communications planning. A small swell, apparently. The role of “consulting communicator” remains elusive, overwhelmed it seems by pressures on communicators to apply skills, on order, from clientele.

Reference 1: Recommendations for improved contribution of extension communication specialists
Reference 2: Background statement

Are agricultural journalists “blindfolded” by their affinity with farming?

Shouldn’t be, according to research among editors of three Dutch agricultural magazines. Wageningen University researcher Maartje Lof conducted the study initiated by the Dutch Organisation of Agricultural Journalism. Guild members wanted to know “whether they dared to write things farmers might not like to hear about issues concerning people outside agriculture.”

“We are journalists, not PR officers,” the interviewed editors said. Lof concluded that agricultural journalists should place more importance on informing their readers about what society is asking of agriculture and why.

This summary appeared in IFAJnews, newsletter of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists.

Reference: Write More About Society Views, Says Research
Author: Noorduyn, Leonore

History of the Missouri Ruralist

In a 1958 master’s thesis at the University of Missouri, Billy C. Brantley traced the origin, development and influence of the Ruralist from 1902 through 1955. His analysis highlighted influences in improving family life and farming methods, promoting better schools and roads, preventing rural crime and encouraging youth programs.

Reference: History of the Missouri Ruralist
Author: Brantley, Billy C.

A glimpse of our purpose.

Sometimes it seems few researchers, and others, are interested in documents more than a few days, months or years old. That’s when we recall a point made by Pierre R. Crosson of Resources for the Future:

“Knowledge accumulates; it is never used up.”

This insight would suggest that the future of agriculture-related communicating, as a field of serious pursuit, rests upon skilled integration of what is known of today – and of the past. ACDC pursues a vision of helping you span both dimensions.

So you would like to review articles in the journal published by ACE.

This Center contains more than 1,100 journal articles from what is now identified as the Association for Communication Excellence (formerly Agricultural Communicators in Education and American Association of Agricultural College Editors). However, the search is not straightforward because those articles appear in journals of three different titles.

  • Current title: Journal of Applied Communications (1990 to date)
  • Replaced: ACE Quarterly (1978-1989)
  • Replaced: AAACE (1919-1977)

Here’s how you can identify articles from those ACE journals. On the “Database Search” page, use “Journal” searches on each of the three titles. Let us know if you have problems or questions.

Communicator activities approaching.

November 17-19, 2004
“60 Years of Communicating Agriculture.” Annual convention of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB) in Kansas City, Missouri USA.

Want to see some Gold Award entries? 

The Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Life and Human Sciences (ACE) recently posted entries that earned Gold Awards in the 2004 Critique and Awards program. Yu can see entries in writing, photography, graphic design, publishing, electronic media, distance education and instructional design, integrated communication programs and information technology.


Best wishes 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 we might add to this unique collection. We welcome them in hard copy (sent to Ag Com Documentation Center, 510 LIAC, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801) or electronic form (at )

November, 2004

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