ACDC News – Issue 05-10

Rethinking extension communications.

An article of that title in the April issue of Journal of Extension took a fresh look at the role of extension communicators in an era of program accountability. LaRae Donnellan and Florita Montgomery traced more than a half-century of effort for transformation – “from scribes to communicators” – with plenty of challenges and occasional setbacks along the way.

Authors described a broadening professional vision rooted in the National Project in Agricultural Communications (NPAC) of the 1950s. They tracked an emerging “consulting communicator” role, described challenges to it and offered nine recommendations for pursuing it anew within the Extension framework of issues-based programming. Organizational goals of extension can best be met, they suggested, by having well-trained communicators serving in both leadership and support roles on issues programming teams.

Reference: Rethinking extension communications
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Potatoes getting mashed? 

An Associated Press release that we have added described pressures on the U.S. potato industry and announced plans to address them through advertising. Among the pressures cited:

  • The mad cow scare “stranded thousands of pounds of frozen potatoes at ports, as countries banned imports of U.S. beef products. Frozen potatoes are often fried in beef fat.”
  • “Popular low-carb diets such as Atkins and South Beach encourage consumers to avoid potatoes.”
  • McDonald’s, one of the largest consumers of potatoes, stopped selling Supersize fries, “bowing to pressure to serve a healthier menu.”

The article described plans by the Washington State Potato Commission to launch an advertising campaign and develop partnerships with weight-loss groups to educate consumers about the healthy benefits of potatoes.

Reference: U.S. potato growers fight perception product is unhealthy
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 The fire ant wars. 

A recent book of this title described campaigns by the U. S. Department of Agriculture to eradicate the red imported fire ant, “a much celebrated and much-loathed insect that plagues the South to this day.” Author Joshua Blu Buhs described the spread of fire ants from the 1930s and traced two USDA attempts, beginning in 1957, to eradicate it using chemical pesticides.

A picture of two wars emerged from the book. One was a war of humans against the ants. The other war involved acrimonious policy struggles among interest groups that “battled in the press, the halls of Congress, and state legislatures.” Communicators can find revealing insights about social conflict, public relations, and risk communications.

Reference: The fire ant wars

How farmers view agritourism.

Results in southern Tuscany, Italy, led researcher R. Sonnino to conclude: “agritourism is not addressing the necessities of farmers who interpret development in qualitative terms and aim mostly at conserving their lifestyle, with it associated values of freedom and independence.” Instead, it “responds to the needs of farmers pursuing economic growth,” those likely to be larger and more affluent.

Reference: For a “piece of bread.”
This article is referenced from Sociologia Ruralis, 44(3) and can be found in PDF format by visiting :

New survey of farm radio listenership.

Results of 2005 AMR Qualitative Research are available. This Ag Media Research project, funded by members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters, involved telephone interviews with Class 1+ farmers in 12 Midwestern states. Some highlights revealed:

  • About 90 percent of farmer respondents (under 40 and over) said the stations they listen to provide the agriculture news, markets and weather information they want.
  • Farm radio reaches multiple households on 49% of the farms and ranches.
  • On average (mean), 2.2 persons are involved in making decisions on each farm or ranch.
  • Farmers listen to multiple radio stations, but 73% listen to only one or two stations during the day.
  • Two-thirds said they get information from a farm broadcaster, and 68% of those could name the broadcaster.

Reference: 2005 AMR Qualitative Research
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Maybe I’ll live in a treetop/like a hermit I would never burn it or chop it down.

This part of a rap song about the forest canopy appeared in a Conservation Biology article we added recently. Author Nalini M. Nadkami reported on experiences in communicating the importance of forest conservation to nontraditional audiences. Among them:

    • Religious and spiritual groups
    • Hospitals and health practitioners
    • Artists and musicians
    • Legislators and decision makers
    • Urban youth
    • Prisoners

Reference: Not preaching to the choir
Posted in PDF format @ :

Communicator activities approaching

June 9-11, 2005
“Horse by Northwest.” 2005 Seminar of American Horse Publications (AHP) in Seattle, Washington USA.

July 31-August 3, 2005
“Agricultural Media Summit.” Professional development conference of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA), Livestock Publication Council (LPC) and AgriCouncil of the Association of Business Media Companies in Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA.

How’s that again? 

The food industry has not escaped an invasion of contradictory or incongruous wording. We note these expressions in food and beverage advertising and labeling:

Boneless ribs
Big Sip
Natural additives
Gourmet fast food
Oven fried
All natural artificial flavor
Fresh from concentrate
Buffalo wings
Twelve-ounce pound cake

Can you add to this list? If so, please pass them along to us.

When you see interesting items you can’t find online or locally 

Get in touch with us at Tell us the titles and/or document numbers. We will help you gain access.

Best regards and good searching. 

Please pass along your reactions, suggestions, and ideas for ACDC. Feel free to invite our assistance 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

May, 2005

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