Posted by: Kristy on August 22, 2017

Posted in: Home, Newsletter, Updates

Keeping the Organization Growing

By Rebecca Colnar, ARC Board Chair

Hello. I am honored to serve as the next Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) president, following Daren Williams’ (NCBA) excellent work as past president of this remarkable organization. I have been involved in ARC since a meeting in New Orleans in 2007 when a small group met to determine ARC’s future. I am pleased to say our vision was on target—today ARC has 159 members including 25 student members.  At that meeting, we numbered about 12. What I’ve always appreciated about ARC is its commitment to excellence in agricultural public relations and the way ag public relations professionals from associations, small shops, marketing communications agencies, agribusiness and government come together to network and learn from each other.

Who am I? I have my own “small shop” called Cow Camp Communications based out of Sheridan, Wyoming. The Montana Farm Bureau has been my main client for more than 20 years and I am their director of public relations. I am responsible for handling all of their public and media relations as well as producing a quarterly magazine and producer member newsletter. Through the years I have had agribusinesses clients, worked with equine magazines, sold advertising, done plenty of freelance writing, and worked with building/highway contractors and oil and gas clients.

Although I did not grow up in agriculture—I was raised in Pittsburgh, PA– I was on the “fringes” of agriculture by having horses, and then married into a ranching family. My husband and I bought a ranch in 2006 in Custer, Montana, where we raise commercial Angus cattle. I am very passionate about agriculture and promoting farmers and ranchers. Although ranching consumes much of my spare time, my “hobbies” are ever-improving my historic house in Sheridan, where I also play summer polo at the Big Horn Equestrian Center.

Enough about me—ARC is an amazing organization that is special because of its members. Learn with our webinars, attend our incredible annual conferences—in 2018 it’s slated for June 20-22, Louisville, KY. Don’t hesitate to call or email me or any other member when you have communications questions, or just want to talk with another ag PR professional. You are not alone!

I know I speak for all of our members when I say they will be happy to visit with you. That’s what’s is so beneficial and rewarding about being an ARC member. I urge our members to recommend ARC to colleagues. Let’s keep this organization growing.

Have a good autumn. Hope you can attend our webinars and mark your calendars for next June in Kentucky.

Wines, fines and thinking inside the box!

By Rebecca Colnar, ARC Board Chair

Wine. Approximately $2.8 million fines for farming. Thinking inside the box. How do they all tie in?  At the 2017 ARC Conference June 20-22 in Sacramento as attendees were engaged in professional development, ag tours and recognition for the best ag PR work in the country.

At annual ARC Conferences, Wednesday usually focuses on state agricultural issues and professional development. This year, we had the Pacific Legal Foundation discussing its work on opposing Waters for the U.S., and in particular, farmer John Duarte, Duarte Nursery, who is facing millions of dollars in fines for plowing his land. The Army Corps of Engineer claims he destroyed a wetland.

Duarte told his personal and complicated story to us.  The second panel covered another challenge facing farmers/ranchers—immigration. Guadalupe Sandoval, Farm Labor Contractors, and Dr. Phil Martin, UC-Davis, discussed challenges many California ag producers are facing regarding immigration crackdowns and the need for comprehensive reform to the migrant worker program.

During lunch, the group heard a presentation about the Sacramento Farm to Fork program. After lunch John Armato, senior partner and creative strategist at FleishmanHillard, had two presentations: Anatomy of a Plan followed by Thinking Inside the Box. This provided everyone with a fresh view of using news ideas in public relations and communications.

Following his presentation, Armato and his office colleagues hosted a very enjoyable wine and cheese reception at their office a few blocks from the Embassy Suites Hotel, site of the ARC meeting. This allowed everyone to mingle with the friendly, creative folks at the FH office while overlooking the city. That evening, the Hall of Fame Dinner was held at the Embassy Suites, where ARC President Daren Williams presented a program regarding those who were instrumental in ARC and public relations in the past. The event included video remarks by Don Lerch, the sole surviving member of the ARC founders. It’s always inspiring to hear about the venerable leaders and their lofty ideas.

Tour Day started with a trip to Blue Diamond Growers. Alicia Rockwell and Mallorie Hayes provided an excellent overview of the company, and we learned how almond growers took on the challenge of water use during a drought, and educated the public on the importance of California food production. In addition, the group enjoyed a tour of the Almond Innovation Center.

We headed north following the almond presentation to Williams County, the largest rice growing county in the U.S., where we were met by Jim Morris of the California Rice Commission and Leo LeGrande, an almond and rice grower. LeGrande provided basic production information on almonds and rice, while Morris explained how rice growers have managed to entice wildlife to rice fields, thus countering the accusation about rice using excessive water.

After a tasty lunch at Granzella’s Inn, we piled in the bus and headed south to Clarksburg to get a taste (literally) of wine production at the Old Sugar Mill. This sugar-processing factory has been converted to tasting rooms from a variety of area wineries. It was an excellent way to end our tour day and a look at two crops—rice and almonds—that are a prevalent part of agriculture in California.

Thursday evening wrapped up the conference with the Golden ARC Awards banquet. See article elsewhere with listing of the Golden ARC Award winners.

I find the ARC Conference unique from other conferences in several ways; while we provide excellent creative speakers for professional development, we also provide a look at what’s happening on the local agriculture scene—what are the challenges and how are producers, and their public relations people, handling them to create the right types of messages for consumers.

And the best part is  my usual mantra about the best part of ARC—the people. ARC provides an amazing networking opportunity for ag PR professionals. If you aren’t a member, join today! Remember to mark your calendars for the ARC Annual Conference June 19-21, 2018 in Louisville, KY.  It will be a great one!

For more great pictures of the conference, head to the ARC Facebook page.

On Being A Creative Strategist

John Armato, Creative Strategist, Fleishman-Hillard, shares what is needed to bridge the gap between creativity and strategy. Some of John’s key points is helping teams and clients better understand, through his “Think Inside The Box” workshops, demonstrating relevance and creating behavior change in public relations activities.  Check out what John has to say here.


ARC Annual Business Meeting Held in Sacramento

ARC President Daren Williams presided over the annual business meeting in Sacramento during the annual conference.  The Ag Relations Council is financially strong, despite a bit of a tough fiscal year for the organization.  Having had a carry over from previous years lifts ARC, and the board and staff continue to responsibly manage the budget.

Williams went on to thank the sponsors for their continued support of the organization, which brought in $23,000 in 2017.  Please thank the following sponsors:

  • FLM+, now FLM Harvest
  • Agri-Marketing
  • National Pork Board
  • AFBF
  • broadhead.
  • MorganMyers
  • NCIS
  • Swanson Russell
  • Bader Rutter
  • Look East (formerly CMA)
  • Syngenta
  • National Cotton Council
  • Ketchum
  • AdFarm
  • O&B
  • C│O
  • California Farm Bureau
  • MustangRED Shooting Sports
  • FleishmanHillard – in kind – John Armato’s appearance at the meeting

Membership is the cornerstone of ARC, and there are currently 159 members, and continues to grow.  A successful Young Professionals program was rolled out in 2017 and garnered 13 new members as a result.   State farm bureaus and commodity groups, whose national association is already a member, receive a discounted membership – 15 new members joined as part of that initiative.  The board is committed to ideas that help grow and attract young people to ARC.

A new, public Facebook page was created prior to the annual meeting.  Please go out and like the new page here.

The successful ARC webinar series, managed by board member John Blue, educated members and non-members and brought in nearly $1000 in revenue for the organization.  John is already looking forward to more great offerings well into 2018.

A new board of directors was voted in during the business meeting.  Your 2017/2018 board of directors for the association and the ARC Foundation is:

  • Rebecca Colnar, Montana Farm Bureau, President
  • Daren Williams, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Past President
  • John Blue, Truffle Media, First Vice President
  • Sally Behringer, MustangRED Communications, Second Vice President
  • Laurie Langstraat, National Crop Insurance Services, Secretary/Treasurer
  • Deron Johnson, FLM Harvest, Director
  • Sarah Kolell, Rabo AgriFinance, Director
  • Kevin Waetke, National Pork Board, Director
  • Cyndie Shearing, American Farm Bureau Federation, Director

Rebecca Colnar was recognized as the ARC volunteer of the year for her role in planning the annual meeting and helping with the recruitment of the state farm bureau members.  Rebecca is the newly elected president, so her contributions to the organization will not wane.

During the annual ARC Foundation business meeting, financials and foundation programs were discussed.  The foundation has been conservative in spending and carried over more than $10,000 from previous years.  The expenses exceeded revenue for the first time ever, because the board felt two scholarship applicants were deserving of the honor.

The board awarded two $1,500 scholarships; one to Alexa Nordwald of the University of Missouri, and the other to Shalin Lawson of West Texas A&M.

The inaugural ARC internship was hosted by Alltech.  Hannah Oates, University of Kentucky, received a $4,000 stipend for her work with Alltech and a $1,000 travel stipend to attend the meeting in Sacramento.  Please read the article Hannah wrote about her experience later in the newsletter.  The internship is generously funded by a $3,000 contribution from Den & Sandy Gardner and Gardner & Gardner Communications.  Alltech funded the additional $2,000.  Later this year, we’ll be searching for the 2018 intern host.

At the close of the business meetings, Williams turned the gavel over to Colnar, and was recognized for his two years of service as president and many more on the board of directors.

2017 Golden ARC Winners Announced

Winners of the Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) 2017 Golden ARC Awards Contest were announced June 22 at the organization’s annual professional development meeting in Sacramento, California. Recipients of this year’s 14 Golden ARC Awards and 9 Merit Awards join an elite group of highly-respected leaders in agricultural public relations in the elite awards program.

For the sixth straight year the Golden ARC de Excellence Award was awarded. The 2017 winner was West Central Distribution and Karwoski & Courage Public Relations for the entry entitle “The Levesol™ Promise Campaign.” This year’s selected entry was from the Campaigns Division, Internal category.  West Central Distribution and Karwoski & Courage Public Relations also won a Golden ARC award for the entry.  Karwoski & Courage Public Relations took home three Golden ARC awards and a merit award.

“The quality of this year’s entries again surpassed previous years’ submissions, and judges provided valuable comments and critiques for each submission to enable entrants to continue to improve their craft,” said Kristy Mach, contest manager. “The Golden ARC Awards Contest is the only award competition directed to agricultural marketing communications professionals that is not judged by our peers in agriculture.  The competition is judged by public relations professionals who are not directly or indirectly linked to the entries.”

This year’s competition was judged by members of the Florida Public Relations Association. “The judges focused on a number of objectives including audience analysis, creativity, execution and campaign results, especially measurability,” continued Mach.

Organizations receiving Golden ARC Awards and merits are National Pork Board, Syngenta, American Farm Bureau Federation, CropLife America, Seaboard Foods, the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, National Cattleman’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, Agri-Pulse Communications Inc., and Dekalb.  Agencies receiving awards include FLM+, Osborn Barr, G&S Business Communications, Ketchum PR and Lessing-Flynn.

Originated in 1990, the Golden ARC Awards Contest recognizes the best and brightest in agricultural public relations, and is open to both ARC and non-ARC members. The 46 categories reflect the broad scope of contemporary public relations activities.

The format and requirements for the Golden ARC awards are similar to other leading public relations awards programs, based on best practices for public relations campaigns and tactics. More information is available at the ARC website.

A complete winners’ listing of the 2017 Golden ARC Awards Contest is here.

ARC Founders Named to 2017 Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame

The founders of the Agricultural Relations Council have been inducted in the Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Sacramento. The Hall of Fame is sponsored by The Agricultural Relations Council (ARC)  and Agri Marketing magazine.

This award is given annually to agricultural public relations professionals who have made lifetime contributions to the industry. Nominees must be a current or past member of ARC to be considered.

Following is the list of founders:

Ladd Haystead, (First President)
American Petroleum Institute

Ed Lipscomb, (First VP)
National Cotton Council

Lowell A. Kern
American Petroleum Institute

Donald G. Lerch, Jr. (previously inducted)
Lerch & Company, Inc.

Frank B. Atchley
Grocery Manufacturers Association

Lyle Liggett
National Cattlemen’s Association

Roy Battles
National Grange

 Carl Bender
Sperry Corporation

Charles Dana Bennett
Farm Film Foundation

Max Chambers
Vegetable Growers Association

C.L. “Cap” Mast, Jr.
Ag Consultant

John C. Davis
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives

William Foreman
National Cotton Council

Walter B. Garver
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Herbert A. Graff
Ralston-Purina Company

Val E. Weyle
National Ag Chemicals Association

Floyd Keepers
Barn Equipment Association

John J. Lacey
American Farm Bureau Federation

George Krieger
Ethyl Corporation

William S. Moreland
Rutgers University

H.P. Quadland
H.P. Quadland Company

Jack Sampier
National Livestock Producers Association

Glenn Sample
Indiana Farm Bureau

Ernest Steward
National Cotton Council

Dave O. Thompson, Sr.
Ag Consultant

Louis H. Wilson
American Plant Food Council

Don Lerch, now 97, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012. He lives in Juno Beach, FL. He said this about the other 25 founding members a few months ago: “These people established the profession of agricultural public relations. We were feeling our way in an entirely new field.”

With ARC now 64 years old, Daren Williams as board chair noted that ARC is proud of it legacy and felt it was time to give the proper recognition to the other 25 founders. “This honor is well-deserved and long overdue,” said Williams. “We are proud of our heritage and thank these PR professionals for their vision and foresight to see a need to communicate agricultural and food messages to consumers and ag audiences. They implemented an organization that continues to thrive today.”

The Hall of Fame program recognizes lifetime contributions to public relations and the ARC. The ARC founders join this illustrious group of current members: Don Lerch, Lyle Orwig, John Harvey, Paul Weller, Richard Howell, Gary Myers, Steve Drake and Carol Bodensteiner.

For more information about each of the founders, click here to view the full press release.

Click here to view the presentation.

ARC Webinar Series

The ARC webinar series is kicking off this year with Will Rodger, American Farm Bureau Federation, on September 28, 2017 12:30pm – 1:30pm ET. Mr. Rodger points out that media relations is alive and well, and will share case studies on engaging media.  Registration is open here.


Check out the rest of the scheduled webinars. Registration for these will open the first of the month of the webinar. A registration link will also be sent to all ARC members.

  • ARC Webinar: Mike Wade, California Farm Water Coalition, highlights how the story of water is being shaped in California
    November 16, 2017  – 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. ET
  • ARC Webinar: Kari Miskit, America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital shares the Farm-to-Fork Capital story
    December 14, 2017  – 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. ET
  • ARC Webinar: Vance Crowe, Monsanto, shares his awesome presentation “Are You Growing Your Tribe?”
    January 18, 2018  – 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. ET

My summer in Agriculture

By Hannah Oates

(Editor’s Note: Hannah Oates spent her summer interning with Alltech, working with ARC member Susanna Elliott at its offices in Kentucky. She is attending the University of Kentucky, majoring in Integrated Strategic communication with an emphasis on public relations. Following is her summary of the internship, which is a unique partnership between ARC and a host company that began this yer. It is funded through the ARC Foundation from a grant from Gardner & Gardner Communications.  This was the first of a five-year commitment to the internship program. If you know someone interested in the 2018 ARC internship, please check the ARC website for more information.)

Growing up in Kentucky, I was no stranger to the presence of agriculture. I was surrounded by rolling hills, championship horses and family farms. I was encompassed by it, yet unaware. I knew that agriculture played an important role in the lives of many of my fellow Kentuckians, yet I had no knowledge about the workings of a farm. I did not know how to milk a cow nor the proper nutrition for sustaining poultry.

Attending the University of Kentucky, a school with an amazing agriculture program, I chose to major in integrated strategic communication focusing on public relations. Agriculture was still just something that surrounded me, not something that was a part of my life.

That all changed this past summer, the summer before my senior year, when I was offered an internship with Alltech, one of the top five global animal health and nutrition companies. This internship, sponsored by ARC, was aimed to help young professionals hoping to pursue a career in public relations to gain professional experience and skills.

Working for Alltech, my main responsibilities have been to write content, mostly blogs, from speeches delivered at ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference 2017. These blogs have covered an array of topics, from mycotoxins in poultry to salmon in the Faroe Islands to regenerative cattle grazing. I started the summer with no knowledge on these topics, spending the majority of my days trying to research what I had listened to and trying desperately to make sense of these terms and concepts so unfamiliar to me.

However, it did not take long for me to realize the importance of what I was learning. I noticed myself relaying the information that I learned that day to whoever would listen. It amazed me how often I used this material. I noticed new things when I went to the grocery store. I found myself glancing more and more at the farms that I passed as I traveled throughout the summer.

As my internship at Alltech comes to a close, I am reminded of just how much I have learned. Apart from technical terms and agriculture terminology, I was introduced to the world of agricultural careers, and amazed at what I found. There are so many opportunities available for careers in public relations and marketing in agriculture. This became even more apparent to me during my trip to Sacramento for the ARC convention, one of the other amazing opportunities that the internship afforded me. Surrounded by people with multiple careers types and working for an array of companies, I learned how many opportunities are available in the agriculture field.

In addition to learning business from veterans in the industry, I was able to experience California for the first time. I toured the Blue Diamond Almonds headquarters, met an almond producer on his farm, and even got to try the infamous Californian wine.

I cannot believe that this summer is coming to a close, bringing my internship and this experience to an end. I have learned more than I ever expected, gained more professional skills than any previous job, and have a newfound respect for agriculture and all that goes into delivering food to consumers. I am beyond grateful for this experience and so excited to see how it shapes and leads my future endeavors. This is a summer to remember.

2017 ARC Silent Auction at AMS is a Success

By Kristy Mach, Associate Director

The ARC Silent auction at the Ag Media Summit raised nearly $3,750.  The funds benefit youth programs and will be split between ARC and AMS.  In total, 47 generous items were donated.

The Ag Relations Council receives an incredible amount of visibility from the auction at AMS, which adds to the monetary value it produces for our youth initiatives.  Many of our members also attend the Ag Media Summit, and it is great to visit with old friends and new.

This is the third year we’ve recognized the ACT chapter who raises the most amount of money for their chapter basket.  For the third consecutive year, Oklahoma State University has earned the title.  Chapter adviser, Shelly Sitton, put together an amazing basket filled with OSU goodies including a signed football and baseball, a cooler, an alumni brick to personalize, an equestrian team jacket, t-shirt and much more!  Other chapters donating were Kansas State, Ohio State, Tarleton State and the University of Illinois.

Items receiving high bids this year were homemade items such as kids bath towels, handmade jewelry and photography.  Sports tickets, John Deere swag, gift cards and techie gifts also did well.  Many thanks to all the donors who help make this auction a success!

The 2018 Ag Media Summit takes place at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa in Phoenix, Arizona – August 4-8. We look forward to receiving your incredible donations.

Welcome New Members

Ad Farm – Dan Kirkpatrick

Ad Farm – Lisa Troshinsky

AgriVoice – Julie Walker

Arkansas State University – Trent Taylor

CropLife America – Genevieve O’Sullivan

Dairy Management Inc. – Tricia Sheehan

FLM+ – Alex Lord

FLM+ – Jodie Wehrspann

Freelancer – Candace Krebs

Honey Creek Media – Jamie Johansen

Ketchum – Jennifer Reinhard

Minnesota Farm Bureau – Amanda Carlson

Minnesota Farm Bureau – Megan Ternquist

Osborn Barr – Jillian Baker

Osborn Barr – Greta Bierbaum

Osborn Barr – Laura Wolf

Pf Communications – Patrick Pfingsten

Seaboard Foods – Heidi Darrington

University of Missouri – Laura Bardot

Vivayic, Inc. – Alix Ambriz

Vivayic, Inc . – Lauren Arbogast

Member News

Update on MustangRED Communications from Sally Behringer

Greetings ARC friends! I have an update for you – I am freelancing full time once again, and have added some new capabilities to the MustangRED Communications network! I have new (and fully customizable) communications training modules in crisis communications, media training, trade show strategic marketing and trade show booth staff training. Plus, I can provide a wide range of public relations services including strategic planning, media relations, event planning and management, writing and more. If you or any of your colleagues would like more information on the wide range of marketing communications services that I and my network of communications professionals can provide, please email me at or call/text me at (785) 218-9759.


SAVE THE DATE!  2018 ARC Annual Meeting heads to Louisville

Get the best continuing education in agricultural public relations at the 2018 ARC Annual Meeting.

June 20-21, 2018
The Brown Hotel
Louisville, Kentucky

If you’d like to be involved in organizing the program, please contact Kristy Mach at or 952-758-5811.

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