ACDC News – Issue 05-03

A look at leaders of land-grant communications and IT units.

Kimberly L. Parker used a Competing Values Framework to analyze the leadership styles of those who manage (a) agricultural communications, (b) information technology, and (c) combined units at U.S. land-grant institutions. Among findings reported in the Journal of Extension:

  • Many managers were relative newcomers to their positions.
  • Two-thirds were male and one-third female, with shares of males and females equal in the agricultural communications units.
  • Managers in all three types of units expressed similar views of their leadership roles.
  • They most closely resembled the profile of effective managers called “conceptual producers” who work well with ideas and are particularly good at coming up with new ideas and selling them.

Title: Leadership styles of agricultural communications and information technology managers [Use title as live link to citation]
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Are producers more interested in better prices than lower risks?

A recent study of how U.S. agricultural producers use market advisory services addressed that question. Joost Pennings and associates reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics:

“Risk attitude does not affect the impact of MAS (market advisory service) recommendations on producers’ decisions, suggesting producers are more interested in the price-enhancing characteristics of MAS advice than in its risk-reducing features.”

Title: The impact of market advisory service recommendations

Mrs. Cookwell – a virtual mom created from focus testing.

A mythical food safety educator, Mrs. Cookwell, “has been a big hit among consumers, especially among young adults” in Canada. Created by the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education, she is seen live on the web site to answer questions about food handling and storage, cooking methods and other topics. She emerged through broad focus testing among 19- to 24-year-olds. They said they go to Mom for information they trust about such matters.

Reference: Internet based food safety educator
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Also creative: using donkeys to help deliver rural information electronically.

Zimbabwe’s mobile donkey-drawn electro-communication libraries got under way during 1999 and are proving popular. The Rural Libraries and Resources Development Programme helps bring new information technologies to rural and isolated communities otherwise deprived of them.

“The cart can travel over all sorts of terrain,” explains one of two reports we have added to the ACDC collection. Using solar power generated by a unit installed on the roof, it provides access to radio, television, telephone, fax, e-mail and Internet services. It might, in the future, also feature an aerial or satellite dish for a wider and clearer electro-communication system. The communities involved initiated these donkey-drawn mobile library services and “requests from other communities for similar services are overwhelming.”

Title: Donkeys help provide multi-media library services
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Title: A donkey-drawn Internet centre
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How much are consumers willing to pay for GM-related food labeling? 

Research by Wallace Huffman and associates examined this question, using a statistically based economics experiment involving U.S. adult consumers. Participants in the experimental auctions discounted foods identified by label as genetically modified by approximately 14 percent relative to their standard-labeled counterparts.

Title: Consumer willingness to pay for genetically modified food labels

Prospects for scientific communication in biotechnology.

They are not encouraging, according to Leah A. Lievrouw in a chapter of a new book. “The growth of knowledge for its own sake, or to improve the human condition, are no longer sufficient motivations for research. Today the dominant motive is the establishment of property rights in information. It has several important effects on scientific communication…”
Effects cited:

  • Retreat from publication (withheld, delayed, “trivial”)
  • Publication bias (of scientists with industry ties)
  • Erosion of peer review
  • Constraints on informal interaction and sharing of results among scientists

Reference: Biotechnology, intellectual property and the prospects of scientific communication

Some interesting and varied information requests have come our way during recent months. 

Among them:
  • Role of the Extension Service in disaster-related communicating
  • Farmer-writers of the 1930s and 1940s
  • Identification of farm community networks
  • Credibility aspects of agricultural news on television
  • Whether agricultural journalists are “blindsided by their affinity with farming”
  • Efforts to “market” land-grant universities
  • Newspaper coverage of agricultural issues
  • Farmers’ use of the Internet
  • Directions in agricultural communications research
  • Background of the “consulting communicator” role in extension communications
  • Impact of the documentary photo project of the U.S. Farm Security Administration

Let us know whenever we can help you identify and gain access to information about communications matters on your agenda.

Communicator activities approaching

February 28-March 1, 2005
Midwest Region Conference of the Cooperative Communicators Association
in St. Louis, Missouri USA.
Information: Gail Miller at

April 4-5, 2005
“Beyond the mechanics: creativity in communications.” Southern Region
Workshop of Cooperative Communicators Association in Atlanta, Georgia USA.

May 15-21, 2005
“Globalization of information: agriculture at the crossroads.” Eleventh World Congress of the International Association of Agricultural Information Specialists
and biennial conference of the U.S. Agricultural Information Network in
Lexington, Kentucky USA.

Not thriving on fresh milk? 

We close this issue of ACDC News on a dairy note, offering part of a classified advertisement for the grammarians among us. It was cited in a 1908 issue of Advertisers’ Almanack:”When the baby is done drinking, it must be unscrewed and laid in a cool place under a tap. If the baby does not thrive on fresh milk, it should be boiled.”

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 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 )

Feburary, 2005

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