Agricultural knowledge gaps are forming between American agricultural producers and the consumers they feed and clothe. These divides in agricultural literacy and firsthand experience in the food and fiber industry may affect how consumers perceive images of modern production practices presented in the news media and, subsequently, the industry itself. In a quantitative study, researchers surveyed students at a large public university about their agricultural literacy — knowledge and awareness of and familiarity with agriculture-related issues — and agricultural experience, their firsthand interactions with agricultural production. The students also responded to images taken from a television news broadcast about antibiotic use in livestock production. Using these three variables, an analysis of variance was conducted that revealed significant differences between students experienced in agricultural production and those somewhat inexperienced, indicating that those with minimal exposure to agriculture may have done so in a context related to traditional, rather than modern, production. A regression analysis also revealed agricultural literacy was a significant predictor of reaction score. The researchers suggest, given the ability of agricultural literacy to influence perceptions, agricultural literacy initiatives should be promoted, while experiences with agriculture may be enhanced by hands-on learning at agritourism sites and agricultural fairs and expositions.
Specht, Annie R.; McKim, Billy R.; and Rutherford, Tracy
"A Little Learning in Dangerous: The Influence of Agricultural Literacy and Experience on Young People's Perceptions of Agricultural Imagery,"
Journal of Applied Communications:
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