ACDC News – Issue 07-18

When environmental interest groups expand and contain conflict.

A recent book by Sarah Pralle reveals how advocacy groups shape the scope of environmental conflict through their strategic maneuvering.  Branching out, digging in: environmental advocacy and agenda setting examines two forest management conflicts, one in British Columbia and one in northern California.  Results of the analysis address questions such as:

  • What motivates advocacy groups to pursue certain strategies over others?
  • When and why do they change strategies?
  • How do competing groups shape one another’s strategy?

“One important theoretical lesson,” according to Pralle, “is that advocacy group strategies cannot be understood without paying attention to the dynamic quality of the policy process generally and the shifting strategies of advocacy groups in particular.”

Title:  Branching out, digging in

Powdergate – investigating an international trade scam.

Philippa Stevenson, an agricultural journalist in New Zealand, has described how she unearthed and investigated an illegal trade scam within that country’s dairy industry.  This engrossing report, posted recently on the web site of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, explains her six-year investigative reporting effort that extended internationally.

“The milk powder whose value during the course of the stories was put at between $45 and $70 million went from New Zealand to Australia to Italy and Mexico.”

How did she spot the story?  How did she pursue it? Why did she stick to it over such a long period?  You can learn her answers from this professional development feature coordinated through an IFAJ/ACDC partnership.
Posted at:

More sports reporters than agricultural communicators. 

Agricultural communications continues through an interesting evolution. An article that gives insight is “A primer on agricultural communications for students, librarians and researchers” by Joseph Zumalt.

It describes how this field grew from the early 19th century through the establishment of agriculture colleges, experiment stations, extension services, agricultural organizations, rural free delivery of mail and new modes of communications. Even after phenomenal developments in communications within agriculture, public understanding of agriculture remains far behind in the present world of Internet. “Now there are more sports reporters than professionals looking out for the safety of our food,” the author observes. “This shortage can put the public’s health at serious risk.”

The article also describes the present status of agricultural communications, in terms of education programs, employment opportunities, professional organizations, journals and other information sources such as this Center.

To read more about this article you can access the following website:

Interactions of generic pork, beef and poultry advertising.

We have added to the ACDC collection a 2007 report of research that examined the effects of domestic advertising and promotion expenditures on meat demand.  It included measurement of the impacts of generic pork and beef advertising, as well as food safety information, on the demand for beef, pork and poultry.  The title is “Impact of pork advertising on U. S. meat demand.”

Posted at

 “Obviously a gap” between experts and smallholder farmers. 

A two-day exhibition of local and “modern” agricultural innovations in Ethiopia revealed how interests of farmer differed from those of agricultural experts who took part.  Authors of a case report in LEISA magazine observed, “Researchers, agronomists and other professionals were reluctant to visit what smallholders had developed or were interested in.”  On the other hand, authors found that most of the farmers present were drawn to innovations most useful for small-scale farming and asked the local innovators numerous questions.

Authors suggested that all those involved in agricultural innovation “need to believe in and like each other.  Otherwise, they cannot combine forces to make the most of the agricultural potential in Tigray.”

Title:  Local and “modern” innovations: what interests whom? [Use the title as live link to the citation.]
Posted at > Magazine > Volume 22, Issue 3.

 A review of agricultural knowledge frameworks.

We have added to the ACDC collection a conference paper that reviewed the evolution of four agricultural knowledge frameworks during the past half century and assessed how they have enabled agricultural development.

  • National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARI) framework. Begun in the 1950s and 1960s with focus on building public sector research departments/institutes and extension services.
  • National Systems framework.  Begun during the 1980s, it reflected efforts of international agencies to shift their agricultural development emphasis toward systems approaches that involved a wider range of institutions (private sector firms, non-governmental organizations, farmer organizations, universities, others).
  • Agricultural knowledge and information system (AKIS) framework. This more integrated concept gained acceptance in the 1990s.  It extended beyond separate national systems and “was intended to promote linkages among and between knowledge institutions and with existing and potential end-users of agricultural knowledge.”
  • Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS) framework was developed in the 1990s. “While stressing the need for linkages, AIS moves ‘innovation’ to the center of attention and stresses a wide range of stakeholders and pluralistic networking among agriculturally relevant institutions.”

Title:  Enabling agriculture
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Communicator activities approaching

October 19-20, 2007
“2007 Science in Society.”  Annual conference of the National Association of Science Writers in Spokane, Washington USA.

November 13-14, 2007
“Capture, consolidate and communicate – the changing nature of contemporary extension.” National Forum of the Australasia Pacific Extension Network in Canberra, ACT, AUSTRALIA.

November 14-16, 2007
“A rural renaissance.”  Annual conference of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) in Kansas City, Missouri USA.

“Ah, it is the life of lives.”

We close this issue of ACDC News with insights about the country newspaper editor. They came during the early 1900s from Charles H. Marchant, 30-year editor and publisher of the Vineyard Gazette, Martha’s Vineyard.

“The confessions of an opium eater would be nothing to his confessions.  He is a man of all work, a miscellaneous personage, all the way up from a devil to a gentleman.  He knows, or should know, everybody and a little of everything.  He is in the world and out of the world, and lives in the past, the present and the future.  He must sometimes see and not seem to see – sometimes hear and not seem to hear. … Indeed, the editor must be all things to all men, or all men will be nothing to him.”

Title:  Country editor: Henry Beetle Hough and the Vineyard Gazette

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 communications, as related to agriculture, food, natural resources and rural affairs in any part of the world.
  • 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.

September 2007

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