Gibson, K. E., Lamm, A. J., Lamm, K. W., & Warger, L. A. (2020). Communicating with diverse audiences about sustainable farming: Does rurality matter? Journal of Agricultural Education, 61(4), 156-174.

There has been a dramatic shift in how people engage with agriculture over the past 50 years in the
United States, leading to little interaction between consumers and the farm. Despite extension
initiatives to communicate with urban consumers about agriculture, the disconnect between consumers
and agricultural producers continues to grow. Research has shown consumers rely primarily on the
media for information about agriculture resulting in misconceptions about its impact on the
environment. Consumers’ negative views about agriculture’s impact on the environment may lead to
support for and implementation of environmental policies that create issues for agricultural producers
rather than policies that support both production agriculture and the environment. This study, guided
by audience segmentation and framing theory, sought to explore differences in public perspectives
regarding agriculture’s impact on the natural environment, specifically with rural, urban, and
suburban residents. Data were collected from 797 Georgia residents living in rural, urban and
suburban areas using an online survey instrument. The results found perspectives on agriculture’s
impact on the environment were moderately high and bimodal; both positive and negative. Statistically
significant differences were found between urban and suburban residents’ positive perspectives on
agriculture’s impact on the environment and between urban, suburban, and rural residents’ negative
perspectives on agriculture’s impact on the environment. The findings imply extension educators need
to tailor outreach programs based on the rurality of residents in order to effectively communicate with
audiences, particularly when combatting negative framing with urban audiences.

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