eyond food and fiber, farmers produce jobs and boost economies. PIE Center research helps agricultural organizations and producers communicate with the public and market their products more effectively. Click on the project names below to read short summaries, download final reports, useful graphics and more.
Faculty: Ricky Telg
Staff: Phillip Stokes, Cassie Wadersee
Funded by: Southwest Region Animal Agriculture & Climate Change Project
Climate change presents many challenges for the agricultural industry, specifically where animal agriculture is involved. To inform and influence livestock and poultry producers, the USDA funded the Animal Agriculture in a Changing Climate project. The overall goal of the project is for Extension, in coordination with partner organizations, to encourage production practices that are environmentally sound, climatically compatible, and economically viable. One of the primary desired outcomes of the project is that stakeholder decisions result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining, or increasing, America’s production levels of meat, milk, eggs, and other animal products. To meet the training needs of Cooperative Extension Agents and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) personnel in the Southwest, the 2016 Cattle and Climate Conversations Workshop was held in Denver, Colorado, in October. This report includes the assessment findings on the impact of the workshop on participants’ approach to communicating contentious issues, including climate change. Attendees answered a survey at the conclusion of the workshop and participated in facilitated discussion groups to evaluate the workshop and to identify their perceptions about communicating about climate change. A follow-up survey was distributed to attendees three months later to determine what workshop content the participants had incorporated in their jobs.
General agriculture projects
Public opinions of agriculture in southwest FloridaFaculty: Joy Rumble Funded by: Gulf Citrus Growers Association To assess consumer opinions of agriculture in southwest Florida, PIE Center researchers conducted focus groups and an online survey for the Gulf Citrus Growers Association. The objective of the study was to assess consumer perceptions of new messaging materials in order to develop a campaign promoting agriculture in the Gulf region.
Framing agricultural messages to reach the publicFaculty: Joy Rumble Funded by: Agriculture Institute of Florida Following recommendations from two previous research projects with the Agriculture Institute of Florida, the PIE Center tested strategically framed messages about agricultural issues in an effort to determine what works and what doesn’t in agricultural messaging. In 2010, the PIE Center conducted focus groups to measure consumers’ perceptions of various words and phrases commonly used in agriculture. As a follow up, seeking to understand what information was currently communicated within agricultural awareness campaigns and if these campaigns were successful, the PIE Center conducted a content analysis in 2011. Based on those two examinations, AIF and the PIE Center embarked on a third project and tested a variety of message frames and appeals with focus groups later that year. Frames present messages in gain or loss terms to encourage and influence the audience to adopt similar frames of reference, whereas appeals portray messages and products as meaningful, believable and desirable.
Analysis of agricultural awareness campaignsFaculty: Joy Rumble Funded by: Agriculture Institute of Florida Seeking to understand what information was currently communicated within agricultural awareness campaigns and if these campaigns were successful, the Agriculture Institute of Florida approached the PIE Center about conducting research on agricultural perceptions and messages. Based on an examination of existing agricultural awareness campaigns, AIF planned to test some of the information in focus groups in fall of 2011. To determine content used in existing campaigns, PIE Center researchers performed a content analysis on the websites of agriculture awareness campaigns in all 50 states.
Testing agricultural words, phrases & photos with consumersFaculty: Joy Rumble Funded by: Agriculture Institute of Florida Seeking to craft Florida agricultural messages in a way to connect with the public, the Agriculture Institute of Florida and the PIE Center collaborated on research to gauge the general public’s perception and understanding of commonly used words and phrases designed to communicate messages about agriculture. Participants in four focus groups evaluated and examined more than 20 agricultural words and phrases, as well as eight photographs representing typical messages. Overall, the participants expressed both positive and negative reactions to many of the terms and phrases tested, along with some confusion and skepticism.
Identifying challenges, needs of small farmersFaculty: Joy Rumble Funded by: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services The small farmer population in Florida represents a diverse array of individuals with vastly different communication requirements. Understanding the programmatic needs, concerns and resources of small farmers is important to strengthen the small farm industry in Florida. This study by the PIE Center, in partnership with Extension’s Small Farm and Alternative Enterprise division, provides information about the challenges and frustrations of small farmers. Final report Executive summary
Florida Farm Bureau publication focus groupsFunded by: Florida Farm Bureau In order to understand members’ thoughts and perceptions of the Florida Farm Bureau publications, the organization asked the PIE Center to conduct focus groups. FFB plans to use the results and recommendations to guide potential changes to the identity and strategy of FFB’s publications. PIE Center researchers held one focus group with active members of FFB and two with associate members. Active members are growers or producers who are actively engaged in agriculture while associate members are individuals who hold FFB insurance.
Florida Fertilizer and Agrichemical Association strategic planning workshopFunded by: Florida Fertilizer and Agrichemical Association To discuss about how the Florida Fertilizer and Agrichemical Association could strengthen its long-range plan, FFAA contacted the PIE Center about holding a strategic planning workshop. FFAA sought to identify the most important issues facing the association’s members in order to create a plan to address them. The association also wanted to determine how current members view their return on investment in the organization as well as how the members viewed FFAA’s name, logo and overall brand.
Florida Farm Bureau marketing survey & strategic planningFunded by: Florida Farm Bureau As the Florida Farm Bureau Federation developed a new communications campaign titled “Strong Family Farms: Strengthening Communities. Creating Jobs. Growing the Economy,” the FFBF staff sought to understand and obtain the perceptions of FFBF’s advisory committee members regarding the campaign. The goals of the new campaign, as identified by FFBF staff, included strengthening community partnerships to foster economic development, working with state and local organizations to create a climate for economic growth, and increasing awareness of agriculture’s role in Florida’s economy. FFBF and the PIE Center decided to use a two-part strategy to collect information. First, a web-based survey collected information in reference to members’ perceptions of a strong community, factors that affect economic development as well as barriers to economic development. The results were collected and analyzed to set the foundation for a 90-minute planning session during FFBF’s Winter Advisory Committee Council.
Heartland Agricultural Coalition communications auditFunded by: Heartland Agricultural Coalition In an effort to communicate effectively with internal and external audiences, the Heartland Agricultural Coalition approached the PIE Center with interest in conducting a communications audit. The goal of the audit was to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the organization’s communication materials and processes within the organization as well as with its stakeholders. The PIE Center requested and received a representative sampling of materials HAC uses to communicate. The resources, which included HAC’s website, monthly newsletter and email updates, were reviewed and analyzed for consistency, usability, messaging strategies and effectiveness.