Posted by: admin on December 22, 2021

Posted in: Newsletter

Message from the President

As we wrap up a busy 2021, I want to share news of some exciting developments for the Agricultural Relations Council.

First of all, it’s that time of year when we pass the president’s baton from the outgoing president to our incoming president. On behalf of all ARC members, board members and staff, I want to thank John Blue for his tremendous work as the organization’s president for the past two years. John has made so many contributions to our group, creating an outstanding line of webinars and working with our board and members to find new and better ways for ARC to bring value to existing members and more enticing offers for prospective members. We are grateful for your membership, your friendship and your service, John!

Next, congratulations to our 2021 Golden ARC Award winners! Hats off to OBP Agency, which won the Golden ARC de Excellence Award – the contest’s best all-around entry in the campaigns division – for its Deltapine Cotton 2020 Virtual NPE Media Summit. To see a list of all of the Golden ARC Award winners, visit

Save the date! The 2022 ARC Conference dates are June 21-23. We’re working hard to refine details, such as location and agenda, so stay tuned for more details!

Get your entries in! The call for 2022 Golden ARC Awards entries is open NOW. The entry deadline is March 1. See the entry form and get all of the details at:

Spread the word – TWO ARC student internships are available! One ARC summer internship is with the Animal Agriculture Alliance and one with G&S Business Communications. These internships are a tremendous opportunity for students interested in an agricultural communications career. Help us get out the word to promising candidates. Find more information at:

Do you have an idea for content or activities that ARC members would like? Would you like to help recruit members and build our organization? Get in touch with ARC staff or board members, and share your ideas! For a list of contact information, visit

I hope you all have a very Merry, Healthy and Safe Holiday Season, and here’s to a busy, productive and inspiring New Year!


Sally Behringer
ARC President
Cell phone: 785-218-9759


Animal Agriculture Alliance and G&S Business Communications to host
ARC interns

Apply for one – or both – of the Agricultural Relations Council (ARC)/Gardner & Gardner Communications internships. Animal Agriculture Alliance will host one of the 2022 interns and G&S Business Communications will host the other 2022 intern.

Students interested in applying for the ARC Internship with the Animal Ag Alliance should fill out an application at: More details about the internship, based in Arlington, Va., may also be found on that link. The application deadline is Jan. 15. The intern will be selected by Feb. 15.

The Animal Agriculture Alliance is a nonprofit organization with the mission of safeguarding the future of animal agriculture and its value to society by bridging the communication gap between farm and food communities. The Alliance’s small but mighty team works to connect key food industry stakeholders to arm them with responses to emerging issues, engage food chain influencers and promote consumer choice by helping them better understand modern animal agriculture and protect them by exposing those who threaten our nation’s food security with damaging misinformation.

Students interested in applying for the ARC Internship with G&S Business Communications should fill out an application and submit it to: by Jan. 15. More internship details and the application can be found at: The intern will be selected by Jan. 31, and will work out of the Raleigh, N.C., or Chicago office.

G&S Business Communications helps innovative companies change the world. Their Agribusiness practice is a cornerstone of the agency, where researchers, media strategists, storytellers and engagement experts meet each client at the intersection of business and communications. Their strategies help B2B clients meet their business goals and the work produces meaningful results that move markets. G&S’s commitment to measurement ensures that they are constantly learning and improving to make programs better. With a global staff of 140-plus people, G&S offers its clients a global network of support through PROI Worldwide partners.

These internships are unique in ag communications due to the collaboration of ARC and the host entity. Funding for the ARC portion comes from a Gardner & Gardner Communications grant to the ARC Foundation.

  • The internships are worth $5,000, with a $4,000 stipend and $1,000 to be used to attend the ARC annual professional development meeting – to be held in June of 2022 (location to be determined).
  • The intern will spend 90 percent of his/her time on host organization projects and 10 percent to support and attend the ARC Annual Meeting.
  • The internship will last 10-12 weeks long.
  • A host organization representative and Gardner & Gardner Communications representative will select the interns.


ARC/C.O.nxt Scholarship provides
$1,500 to ag communications student

The Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) is seeking scholarship applicants until March 15, for the 2022 ARC/C.O.nxt Scholarship. This $1,500 scholarship is open to undergraduate college students pursuing a career in agricultural communications/public relations, who have interest in working for an agribusiness company, marketing communications agency, national/state/regional commodity or general farm organization, or other entity that promotes agriculture.

Lyle E. Orwig, founder of Charleston|Orwig, now rebranded as C.O.nxt, generously funds this scholarship, through the endowment he set up with the ARC Foundation.

ARC scholarship applicants must have an overall grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 or more and a 3.0 GPA in the major area of study (based on a 4.0 scale). College students enrolled in the fall of 2021 may apply for the scholarship. Eligibility, as determined by the ARC board of directors, extends to four-year programs for students attending institutions that offer programs in ag communications. For more details and to download the ARC scholarship application, go to:

Please direct your ARC/C.O.nxt Scholarship questions to Sandra O’Rourke at the ARC office, or 952-758-5811.


Take-home messages from
the ARC ‘Editor Panel’

By Grace McCoy and Olivia Kuhn, Purdue University

When attending the Agricultural Relations Council Annual Conference, most of us Purdue University students left stunned. There were so many “industry norms” that were casually discussed in conversations that none of us previously knew about. The most random things to the industry professionals were some of the most profound learning principles provided to us students. As we took notes during the first conference session, we made a list of a few things we learned from the speakers.

Session 1 was titled “Editor Panel” and it consisted of four separate speakers. Panelists included Sara Wyant from Agri-Pulse, Jessica Johnson from Newswise, Greg Horstmeier from DTN/The Progressive Farmer, and Lynn Henderson, AgriMarketing Magazine, who acted as the moderator.

  1. Newswise is a platform used to communicate research news to journalists.
  2. For Newswise Ag, content is viewed more by experts than any of the other viewer groups.
  3. DTN’s viewer audience is primarily farmers with the secondary group being those in agribusiness.
  4. Agri-Pulse’s key influencers are on Capitol Hill and big CEOs.
  5. The most covered content on Agri-Pulse was research; however, the most views were on agriculture content.
  6. When it’s time for a public relations specialist to send content to a reporter, it’s important to understand who the reporter is because everyone will cover it differently.
  7. You never know when a certain news story is going to break.
  8. Remember these suggestions: always have a contact person when publishing a press/news release or article; critical supporters are just as important as critical viewers; and, building trusting relationship are invaluable.


Fighting for agriculture
and food in the nation’s capital

By Haley Baker, Purdue University

The third session at the Agricultural Relations Council Annual Meeting, “Beneficial Swamp Dwellers: Fighting the Good Public Relations Fight for Agriculture and Food in Washington, D.C.,” provided a great set of panelists who discussed their efforts in public relations for the agricultural industry. Panelists included Alan Bjerga, senior vice president of the National Milk Producers Federation, Christine Cochran, executive director of the Grain Foods Foundation, Bethany Shively, vice president of strategic communications for the American Seed Trade Association, and Steve Mercer, vice president of communications for the U.S. Wheat Associates.

Bjerga discussed “Fighting the Fakes with Facts,” specifically within the milk division of the dairy industry. The National Milk Producers Federation represents nearly 70 percent of milk producers in the United States and plays a crucial role in public policy discussions. Bjerga emphasized that when advocating with facts, oftentimes they resonate internally within the industry but not externally with consumers.

“Growing the Bread Basket” was covered by Cochran, touching on the highs and lows in the grain-based foods industry. In 2004, the Grain Foods Foundation was established as a joint venture between the baking and milling industries. That was also the year of the Atkins diet fad – a high-protein, low-carb diet.

Innovation in food and agriculture was covered by Shively, highlighting Innovature, a joint project of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization and American Seed Trade Association. Shively said the platform advocates for the seed industry as a whole and heavily focuses on the benefits – more so than the technology.

Mercer discussed export market development, noting that at least 20 percent of U.S. agricultural products are exported. Mercer emphasized that U.S. exports play an extremely important role in today’s agriculture industry.

By the end of the session, attendees heard from some of the best in today’s agricultural public relations industry.


Grammar: A foundation
for understanding

By Kari Slagel, Purdue University

“Grammar gives us the building blocks to being understood,” said Kris Spisak, an author and grammatist, at the Agricultural Relations Council Grammartopia event. “What is more important than human communication?” Spisak asked.

She tested ARC members’ knowledge in a grammar game show and left participants with some memorable reminders:

  • Effect can be a verb.
    1. If you’re like the rest of us, you probably have “affect is a verb” and “effect is a noun” fixed in your mind. In certain cases, effect is used as a verb that means “to bring about.”
  • Using “jive” doesn’t jibe.
    1. When someone says they don’t jive with something, they are saying they don’t dance with something. They might not know how to dance, but they definitely don’t know that the saying should be “jibe.”
  • Normalcy isn’t normal.
    1. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve often heard, “We are eager to return to normalcy.” Grammatists agree with this statement but only because we are eager for the term “normalcy” to be replaced with the correct term – “normality.”
  • Reoccurring misuse of recurring.
    1. A meeting that happens weekly at the same time is recurring. Rainfall is something that is reoccurring because it isn’t on a regular schedule. Let’s make sure our use of these terms properly is reoccurring.
  • Beyonce is awesome.
    1. In one of her songs, Beyonce sings, “If I were a boy.” Her use of a conditional or hypothetical calls for the use of subjunctive mood (read more under the subjunctive mood entry of the AP Stylebook). If Beyonce were great at grammar? Now that isn’t hypothetical; that’s a fact.


Power of purpose:
Social impact communications

By Hannah Walker, Purdue University

Working in an industry that has historically lacked diversity is no longer an excuse. As agricultural communicators working in public relations (PR), it is vital that we understand the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in our industry and companies.

At the 2021 Agricultural Relations Council Annual Meeting, Jeff Wilson and Julie McCracken of Padilla shared their perspectives on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and how to better incorporate these initiatives into the workplace.

Wilson and McCracken highlighted several national events that brought DEI to the forefront of many people’s minds. Events included the killing of George Floyd, the #stoptheAsianhate movement and the removal of several Confederate statues.

To ensure that PR practitioners are sensitive and informed on these issues, the Diversity Action Alliance was formed in 2020 to ensure continued improvement across the industry related to DEI.

While the industry itself responded with the Diversity Action Alliance, Padilla also responded internally by forming a DEI Council to tackle recruitment, retention and trainings in unconscious bias and microaggressions.

In an industry like PR, not only do we have to ensure that our agencies have solid DEI programs and practices in place, but we must also be able to advise our clients on best DEI practices.

Wilson and McCracken shared what they feel are the best strategies for DEI. Examples include ensuring that values are clearly defined, understood and appreciated. Additionally, companies must understand what is foundationally important to them and their stakeholders. Once values are understood and defined, companies must start from the inside out and articulate the why behind their actions.

McCracken stressed that sharing progress openly and regularly is key and when you mess up, fess up. Additionally, be patient. Implementing and living out your values is a process that takes time but will reap many rewards in the long run.

Diversity, equity and inclusion can no longer be in the back of PR practitioners’ minds. It must be present and ingrained into each action and communication in order to be effective and meaningful.


Golden ARC de Excellence and Golden ARC Award Winner:
Events and Observances

Cotton industry’s number 1
grower event goes virtual

Provided by OBP Agency

For 14 years, the Deltapine New Product Evaluator (NPE) Summit has been the signature grower and news media engagement event for Deltapine brand cotton seed. During the event, news media have the unique opportunity to engage with many key growers in one location.

This event typically generates quality public relations (PR) coverage for the brand and helps to position and convey confidence in new product performance. News media have opportunities to interview NPE growers who evaluate and approve the performance of the new Deltapine cotton varieties. Due to the pandemic, however, the 2020 Deltapine NPE Summit evolved into a virtual event. There was much concern about transitioning from a traditional, well-attended, in-person event to a virtual event in terms of general grower attendance, as well as media engagement.


Since 2008, the Deltapine NPE Summit program has become the industry’s premier cotton variety testing and commercialization program, involving more than 200 growers representing all growing areas of the Cotton Belt. These growers evaluate pre-commercial variety candidates on large-acre plots under their own management systems and field conditions. Feedback from NPE growers on the pre-commercial variety candidates help the Deltapine team determine which candidates to commercialize.

Each December, NPE growers are brought to a central location for the NPE Summit to learn which variety candidates are being named to the new class and listen to presentations on new technologies and agricultural practices. The location for this important and impactful event in 2020, however, was forced to change to home computers.

Continue reading here.


Golden ARC Award Winner:
Digital and Social Media, Podcast

Corteva Agriscience – The Growing Debate podcast

Provided by Corteva Agriscience, Bader Rutter

We asked Bader Rutter the following questions about the winning project “Corteva Agriscience – The Growing Debate podcast.”

Please briefly describe your winning project.

The Growing Debate podcast allows Corteva Agriscience to tackle consumers’ pressing questions about commercial agricultural production by using a unique storytelling approach. When many urban consumers think of farming, they picture charming red barns and pastoral fields, but there is so much more to the story. Agriculture is at the core of many of today’s most complex and pressing challenges. Corteva aspired to find a new way to share these complex farming stories in a way this audience would find compelling. The podcast allows us to build empathy with urban consumers, while educating through the storytelling of farmers and the sounds of rural America.

Why did you choose a podcast to communicate your message?
We created The Growing Debate podcast to better explain how farming intersects with some of today’s most complicated and debated topics. By exploring these topics through the sounds, voices and stories of modern agriculture, urban listeners develop an emotional connection to today’s farmers and ranchers. But like many other things in 2020, Season 2 of the podcast had to pivot to virtual interviews. To keep our listeners engaged, we added compelling soundscapes to create a vivid listening experience in their minds. Combining a powerful mix of sound effects, music and audio verité, we brought background conversation and location sounds to the fore to create a deeply immersive experience. This allowed us to explore new topics, including the Arctic Seed Vault, the plant-based movement, large-scale farming, the next-gen farmer and more.

What were the results?

Without any added promotional efforts, The Growing Debate has 2,695 all-time downloads from simplecast. It has 13,591 total listens. In addition to the Golden ARC win, The Growing Debate has received distinctions from The One Show and National Agri-Marketing Association.

Check out these popular Corteva podcasts.


Golden ARC Award Winner:
Graphic Elements 

Cattle Tales Building a Perfect Burger

Provided by Cultivate

Agriculture continues to search for ways to connect with the public on social media to share its story. #CattleTales is a diverse community active on social media platforms, sharing information and their personal stories about cattle and agriculture from pasture to plate, and connecting to each other and the public through a hashtag.

#CattleTales audiences are those involved with agriculture, mostly the beef and dairy industries, and who share information with their followers and audiences, which often include their friends, neighbors, family and communities who may not be directly involved in production agriculture. With #CattleTales, a strategic decision in content direction is to first reach those directly involved in agriculture; it is a true grassroots effort of relying on those in agriculture to share the content for increased reach. By doing so, the public sees information shared from someone they most likely already follow or have a relationship with. Not only does this increase brand loyalty, but it also increases the chance the information #CattleTales shares is trusted. Between #CattleTales original content and user-generated content, posts, stories, videos and graphics, the hashtag continually grows in popularity while encouraging others to also participate.

The benefit of a hashtag is it increases reach, creates a fun opportunity for all to join in and share, and serves to connect, filter and be searchable information. The #CattleTales social media platforms and content are strategically designed to encourage fun engagement. It doesn’t follow the traditional mindset of agricultural advocacy. All #CattleTales content and graphics are mindfully created to resonate with both agriculture and the public at large.

With a pandemic, 24/7 breaking news headlines, a controversial election year and more users on social media for longer periods of time, 2020 was a tough year to manage social media. You couldn’t schedule content too far ahead of time because it felt like some new controversy or someone being “canceled” occurred daily.

Read more here.


Golden ARC Award Winner: Collateral/Literature 

Riverbend Wagu Brand Guide

Provided by AC&C Marketing

Many rivers flow through Siskiyou National Forest, where Riverbend Wagyu calves are born. These waters bring to life the streams, lakes and meadows that nourish the Riverbend herd. Even the Dutch last name of the brand’s founders – the Kuykendall family – translates to “View of the Valley.” Paying homage to this special region and its unique waterways was essential to this brand. Riverbend Wagū partnered with AC&C Marketing to cultivate a name and brand identity that authentically communicated Riverbend’s founding and setting.

Discovery and takeaways

In preparation for this brand guide tactic, AC&C completed a discovery process, which included interviews with the Kuykendall family and a competitive audit of the Wagyu beef industry where they considered both adjacent and aspirant competitors. The market was comprised of brands ranging from artisanal to mass market and from conventional to sustainable beef, and they identified the space where Riverbend could be most successful – as one of the most sustainable Wagyu beef offerings that was also artisanal.

This market opportunity takeaway from discovery carried into AC&C’s telling of the Riverbend story via impactful visual language. Photography and video featuring natural lighting, full landscapes and the entire herd would touch on traditional, artisanal notions of raising cattle. AC&C led an extensive two-day video shoot capturing the herd being driven across the valley. Lush imagery of the Riverbend region would be key to creating the setting and reminding the consumer of the sustainability of smaller, more intentional operations.

Read more here.


Golden ARC Award Winner:
Open Category 

American Farm Bureau
#StillFarming Campaign

Provided by Morgan Walker, American Farm Bureau Federation director, digital marketing

The COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns in March 2020 caused food supply chain disruptions, resulting in empty grocery shelves in parts of the country. When alarmed Americans resorted to panic purchasing, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) launched the #StillFarming integrated marketing campaign to build public confidence in America’s farmers and ranchers.

#StillFarming tells the stories of farmers and ranchers still hard at work during the pandemic – and the challenges they are overcoming to feed America and the world. The campaign reached more than 100 million users across the digital landscape in 2020 – building confidence in the U.S. food supply and trust in farmers and ranchers among consumers by sharing the challenges they are overcoming to feed America and the world.

The goal of the campaign was to build trust among consumers. In addition to the campaign’s overall reach, according to an internal poll conducted by AFBF, trust in America’s farmers and ranchers remains high amid the devastating blow delivered by the COVID-19 pandemic – with 84 percent of Americans trusting the nation’s farmers.


Tina Charpentier takes
on new role at Padilla

Padilla promoted Tina Charpentier, an Agricultural Relations Council board member, to executive vice president, Client Experience. In this role, Tina will be responsible for assuring that clients across the agency’s brands, sectors and practices have access to the firm’s full range of capabilities and services. She’ll work with team leaders to build bespoke ensemble teams that pull expertise from across the firm in a way that closely matches client needs and creates new growth opportunities for staff. In addition, she’ll help assure that client teams are applying agency best practices in strategy, planning, program execution and measurement.

For more than 25 years, Charpentier has honed her integrated communications expertise with client campaigns in the agriculture, food, health and nutrition industries. She previously served as senior vice president, Agriculture + Environmental Sciences at Padilla, overseeing client partnerships with Cargill, CHS, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Sound Agriculture. Charpentier will now take a broader view of the agency, overseeing the firm’s Health and Technology practices, its insights and strategy function, and the Agriculture + Environmental Sciences team.

“Our clients rely on us for a wide range of support as they transform by building, growing and protecting their reputations, and that support requires a blend of team members and best practices from across the agency’s offices and practice areas,” said Matt Kucharski, president, Padilla. “Tina is uniquely qualified to help us deliver a consistent, compelling, valuable experience to our clients, regardless of the team executing the program.”


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