ACDC News – Issue 07-12

A call for revitalizing extension services.

After more than a decade of “gradual disinvestment” in extension services, the Government of Australia is reconsidering that strategy.  A new committee recommendation to the House of Representatives calls for “developing a national extension framework to revitalize extension services.”

This recommendation came during February from the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry as part of a major inquiry into rural skills training and research.  We entered two news releases into the ACDC collection. You can use them to gain access to the full committee report if you wish.

Title:  Skilling rural Australia
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Title:  Committee investigates ways to reinvigorate agricultural extension
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Six agricultural outlook reports focused on communications.

Some communications aspects of rural development and food trends came under consideration at the 2007 Agricultural Outlook Forum.  This annual gathering sponsored by the U. S. Department of Agriculture took place March 1-2 in Arlington, Virginia.

Here are six presentations that may hold special interest for communicators:

  • “Using broadband to make rural Michigan a better place to live and work”
  • “A look at telecommunications, healthcare and community facilities to make rural town more viable”
  • “Food icons: labeling and health claims, future of food marketing”
  • “Private sector research in nutrition marketing”
  • “Understanding the consumer through technology: scanner data, consumer panels, and analysis”
  • “Future directions in consumer-based marketing and promotion: micro-level promotion and price optimization technology”

You can see them at:

Helping citizens connect with agriculture around them.

Citizens of Switzerland are learning about agriculture through one of the most creative communications efforts we have seen for such purpose. This wide-ranging public education effort includes, for example:

  • “Agriculture creates culture,” a colorful booklet portraying Swiss agriculture
  • “Swiss farmers – keeping the land alive,” an 11-minute video in DVD format
  • An advertising series featuring known personalities
  • Opportunities (including directories) for Holidays on a Farm, Brunch on a Farm, School Classes on a Farm
  • Color postcards featuring farm animals and scenes

The Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture, Swiss Farmers’ Union, Association of Swiss Milk Producers and other sponsoring bodies are involved.  We appreciate receiving sample campaign materials from Markus Rediger, managing director of Agricultural Information Center LID.

Title:  Agriculture creates cultures

Nutrition labels on fresh beef boosted sales and improved consumer attitudes in a recent test.

A report we added from Beef magazine described consumer responses in two Indiana supermarkets. Consumers responded to on-pack labels that included nutrition and health information.  Poundage and dollar sales increased during the test period.  Also, interviews before and after the labeling test revealed an increase in the share of consumers who said they believed beef was healthier than they had previously thought.

Title:  Nutrition labeling spurs beef sales
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What about the conceptions of science in agriculture textbooks?

A disturbing study that found poor conceptions of science in high school chemistry textbooks prompts questions about the concepts found in those for teaching science literacy related to agriculture.  Researcher Fouad Abd-El-Khalick examined 14 chemistry textbooks from five connected series, some dating back to the 1960s.

He and his associates found in such texts much that left them concerned.  For example:

  • That a scientific law is a proven fact that will never change
  • That the sun rising each day is an example of a scientific law
  • That scientists rely only on their data to reach conclusions
  • That science is rational, objective or free of cultural influence
  • That there is a step-by-step procedure for doing science, a “scientific method”

Moreover, “over the past 40 years, these textbooks did not change or became worse in how they presented nature of science, and that’s shocking.”

Title:  Study finds textbooks lacking in how they teach conceptions of science
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Banish the phrase “healthy food.”

“Healthy food” is on the 2007 List of Banished Words at Lake Superior State University in Michigan.  Joy Wiltzius nominated it for banishment after someone told her the tuna steak she had for lunch “sounded healthy.”  Wiltzius replied:  “If my lunch were healthy, it would still be swimming somewhere.  Grilled and nestled in salad greens, it’s ‘healthful’.”

You can see other nominations for the 2007 List of Banished Words at:

Communicator activities approaching

July 2-5, 2007
“Environmental and rural sustainability through ICT.”  Joint conference of the European Federation of IT [Information Technology] in Agriculture (EFITA) and the World Congress on Computers in Agriculture (WCCA) at Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, Scotland.

July 28-August 1, 2007
“Writing, photography, design: the AMS trifecta.”  Agricultural Media Summit in Louisville, Kentucky.  Organized jointly by American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA), Agri Council of American Business Media (ABM), Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) and Livestock Publications Council (LPC).

August 22-25, 2007
Annual conference of the Association of Food Journalists in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA.  Information:

September 8-9, 2007
“Food and morality.” Theme of the 2007 Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, England.  Information:

Not our field of expertise, but…

Sometimes we receive requests that are considerably removed from agriculture-related communications.  Recently, for example, we received a request for information about cassava peeling machines.

The ACDC collection contains some information about cassava, but only about human communications involved in researching, producing, marketing and using it.  In this case, we settled for suggesting other ways to find information about such machines.

Do you have thoughts, examples or suggestions related to any topics featured in this issue? 

Please send them to us by return e-note.
Get in touch with us:

  • When you cannot locate information you need about agricultural and rural communicating.
  • When you see in this collection interesting items you cannot find, locally or online. Tell us the titles and/or document numbers.  We will help you gain access.

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

Best regards and good searching.

June 2007

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