ACDC News – Issue 06-22

A battlefield of knowledge: face-offs of farmers and experts. 

Researcher Julia Guivant explored that dimension through a case analysis among farmers and their key informants in southern Brazil. The topic involved use of crop pesticides.

Farmers interviewed “tended to oppose their knowledge to that of the experts or technicians (both salesmen and extension agents) because they considered their knowledge to be more appropriate to the everyday needs of the crops.” In turn, technicians working in the area “found it very difficult to influence farmers to use lower doses and less toxic pesticides.”

According to Guivant, “One important conclusion for participatory methodologies is to start with an understanding of farmers’ risk perception, their hybrid local knowledge, and the power and conflicts that are present in the relationship between farmers and experts.”

Title: Pesticide use, risk perception and hybrid knowledge 
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“Lives of the poor and unfamous.”

 Ron Wall used that title to introduce readers of The ByLine (American Agricultural Editors’ Association) to the photography of Mary Ellen Mark.

“Shot mostly in rich black-and-white, Mark’s images capture the rawness of living out on the desperate fringes of rural and urban society, but there is nothing exploitive about them. These are images of real people living real lives. And for photographers working in agriculture, isn’t that exactly what you hope to achieve each time you look through a viewfinder?”

You can see international samples of her photography (including rodeo and circus settings) by visiting the Gallery section of her web site:

UK consumer attitudes to food and food safety.

The latest (Wave 6, 2005) in a series of public surveys by the Food Standards Agency, United Kingdom, has been added to the ACDC collection. Among the findings:

  • The majority (69 percent) expressed some concern about food safety issues and 22 percent were “very concerned.”
  • Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, or Mad Cow disease) and food containing genetically modified ingredients “appeared to be less top of mind as a concern.”
  • Results showed increasing concern over the amount of salt, fat and sugar present in food since those aspects were added to the survey in 2003.
  • “Over two-fifths of UK respondents considered that food safety had improved in the last year. This is consistent with the level observed in previous years.”

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Marketing tools that U. S. agribusiness firms are using. 

A recent article in Agri Marketing magazine describes results of Purdue University research about marketing patterns of mid-size agribusinesses in the U. S. This survey compared use of various marketing tools for capital products (such as tractors and buildings) and expendable products (such as seeds and fertilizers). Among the comparisons:

•  Share of expenditures for print, radio and television.
•  Share of expenditures for collateral materials, shows, public relations, direct marketing, gifts and company web sites.
•  Share of expenditures for market research.

Title: Trends in marketing spending 
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Building personal relationships over the Internet – a key for agri-marketers. 

According to a 2004 article in the Review of Agricultural Economics, this may be a key to expanding farmers’ e-commerce activity. Using 1999 survey data, researchers found that most agricultural input firms used company Web sites and adopted some type of Internet strategy. However, responses from managers of such firms led researchers to observe:

“Firms wanting to expand e-commerce sales to farmers must address the security and privacy concerns that make farmers hesitant regarding e-commerce. Firms must also overcome the difficulty of building personal relationships and providing after sales service over the Internet that served as barriers to farmer e-commerce adoption in 1999.”

Title: Internet and e-commerce adoption by agricultural input firms

“Rural Minnesota Radio”

Emerged recently from the Center for Rural Policy and Development, a non-partisan, not-for-profit policy research organization at St. Peter, Minnesota. Since February 2005 it has been producing programs of discussion and information on rural issues to residents. Some recent topics featured:

  • Small rural schools
  • Ethanol policies
  • Latino education
  • Jobs and job quality in rural areas
  • Rural health issues
  • Small town vision
  • Broadband access in rural communities

Programs are available to any Minnesota radio station free of charge.
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Canadian college on wheels. 

Historical dimensions of the ACDC collection got a boost recently from a New York Times article we added about Quebec ‘s farm train. In December, 1922, this train had just completed a six-week tour of the Province. More than 100,000 persons throughout Quebec had viewed the agricultural exhibits in a 14-car “college on wheels.” Educational materials featured livestock, field crops, poultry, horticulture, farm engineering, sugar making, beekeeping and home industries.

The Provincial Department of Agriculture, agricultural schools and Canadian Pacific Railway organized this traveling extension service. It proved “more successful than was ever hoped for.”

Title: Farm train

Communicator activity approaching 

February 5-6, 2007
Agricultural Communications Section of the 2007 Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists (SAAS) conference in Mobile, Alabama USA.
Conference information: 
Ag Com Section web site:

“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan, “before the year is out.” 

We close this issue of ACDC News with a classic Australian Bush poem sent earlier this month by associate Liz Kellaway. She explains that the current drought there – one of the worst in a century – reminds her of the poem, “Said Hanrahan.” It examines the strange relationship farmers have with the weather.

It was “written in 1921 by a bloke called John O’Brien,” Liz reports. “I remember hearing it recited many times at community concerts and country gatherings as I was growing up.” You can read “Said Hanrahan” at:

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November 2006

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