Posted by: Kristy on September 24, 2015

Posted in: Newsletter

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Daren Williams HeadshotThe Death of Sound Science and Common Sense

By Daren Williams, ARC Board President

Senior Executive Director, Communications

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

“How Safe is Your Ground Beef?” screamed the headline of the cover story of Consumer Reports magazine on newsstands this month. Yet another scary sounding report promising headlines linking red meat to cancer is due out before Halloween. As part of the team at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association that manages these issues, this certainly keeps life interesting. But having managed similar issues in food and agriculture for more than 25 years, I continue to marvel at what passes for science and the lack of our ability as a society to discern the difference between junk science and legitimate research.

Frankly, this is nothing new. My career in issues management in agriculture began with the Alar scare in 1989. In that case the Natural Resources Defense Council, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental advocacy group, released a rat study predicting that 1,500 children per year would get cancer from drinking apple juice and eating applesauce. Teaming up with 60 Minutes, the New York TImes and Consumer Reports, in a PR campaign orchestrated by Fenton Communications (which bills itself as a “social change” communications agency), NRDC used the report as leverage in a lawsuit with the Environmental Protection Agency over Alar, a plant growth regulator sprayed on apples. The media feeding frenzy, driven by an A1 story in the Times on Sunday morning followed by an entire 60 Minutes episode that evening, was overwhelming. Unfortunately, the resulting consumer panic cost the industry millions in sales and drove multi-generational family orchardists out of business.

Consumer Reports was at it again this past month, releasing a study on ground beef safety that was based on an entirely false premise regarding antibiotic use in cattle. The study, funded by the Pew Commission, claimed that ground beef from animals not treated with antibiotics was less likely to harbor antibiotic resistant bacteria than beef from animals that had been treated. The faulty premise was that beef labeled “organic” or “grass-fed” meant those animals had never received an antibiotic, which is not necessarily true. Conversely, the study assumed that if the beef was not labeled as grass-fed or organic came from animals that had been treated. In other words, the entire study was invalid before the sampling and testing even began.

Even worse than the study was the reporting in Consumer Reports magazine, which confused serious issues regarding beef safety and sustainability. The article claimed that organic and grass-fed beef, which they deemed “sustainably-raised” (NOT the definition of sustainable beef!) was safer than conventionally-raised beef. What they failed to clarify is they found zero traces of E. coli 0157:H7 or other pathogenic strains of E. coli, or shiga-toxin producing E. Coli (STEC). These are the bacteria of concern in foodborne illness. The bacteria found in the study were common bacteria found in many raw food products.

The New York Times editorial board piled on with an op-ed entitled, “Cheeseburger, Hold the Salmonella” (the CR study did find one solitary sample that tested positive for salmonella out of more than 100 samples, which is below the levels found in USDA sampling). While this study does not appear to have impacted beef demand, it could lead consumers to believe they can enjoy a medium rare burger as long as it is labeled grass-fed or organic. The truth is all beef must meet the same safety standards, regardless of production method, and ALL ground meat must be cooked to 160F to ensure safety.

Next up: The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the organization which recently listed glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) as a probable human carcinogen, is expected to release their findings on red and processed meat. If IARC lists red and/or processed meat as a possible or probable human carcinogen it will be the first food on their long list of potential carcinogens.

The question is how will consumers react? Will they be able to parse through words such as “possible/probable human carcinogen”? Will they understand this means that something may (or may not) be something that might cause cancer? Because “possible” and “probable” both mean maybe and a carcinogen is something that might cause cancer under certain circumstances (for example, as I learned while working on the great Twinkie recall of 1998, asbestos is only harmful if inhaled, not ingested!)? Will the media put the report in context or capitalize on the opportunity to fuel fears and drive traffic to their websites?

We need the help of everyone in agricultural communications in spreading the word that no single food has ever been found to cause cancer and the IARC report will not change that fact. The fact is we do not eat food in isolation. The fact is human epidemiological studies that show possible correlations between diet and health only show possible correlations, not causation, and therefore cannot be used to determine cause and effect. The fact is the best way to reduce your risk of chronic disease is to maintain a healthy weight and that red meat, as part of an overall healthy diet including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low/non-fat dairy, helps fuel physical activity, which helps maintain healthy weight.

Even though the death of sound science is not a new phenomenon it is nonetheless disturbing and threatens the future of American Agriculture. At risk is our ability to develop and utilize new technologies needed to produce food for a growing world population with finite resources. There is much at stake and as long as I am alive I will fight for a renewal of sound science and common sense!

Who’s with me?


2016 ARC Meeting Set for St. Paul!Den Gardner Headshot

“St. Paul and ARC – The Times They Are A-Changin’

ARC Annual Meeting June 21-23 at Intercontinental Hotel

By Den Gardner, Executive Director

Before we start, some common misconceptions about Minnesota that we will clear up right away:

  • Mosquitos aren’t the size of small birds here and are not the “state bird.” That’s the loon.
  • It doesn’t snow 12 months a year. In fact, in 2015, the high for June 21-23 (our meeting dates for 2016) was between 79 and 85 degrees. That’s Fahrenheit folks! It actually got to 114 degrees once!MNDescription
  • Minnesota does have only two seasons, not four: Winter and Road Construction.
  • It’s a liberal state. Michelle Bachmann. Need I say more? Oh, how about former governor Jesse Ventura? OK, I’ll stop.
  • Every Minnesotan owns a pack of sled dogs. Not true. Only those in northern Minnesota.
  • The only sport we play is ice hockey. Well…
  • Minnesota Nice. Although this would be great for all of us Minnesotans, not quite sure I agree. I don’t want to fight or argue about this, but dammit we aren’t all that way. Sorry, I meant darn it!
  • If you’re Catholic and live in New Prague (world-wide headquarters for ARC), you don’t say: “Peace be with you” during the greeting in the middle of mass. You say: “Peace be witcha.” It is a Czech community after all.
  • We all talk like the movie Fargo. I’m not sure that’s true – don’t yâ knōw? But you betcha we like to have a good time. Ya sure!
  • And we’re just gonna keep on calling a casserole a “hotdish” here – whether you like it or not.

What better thrill does the Minnesota staff of ARC have than welcoming you to St. Paul for the 2016 meeting. As our own Bob Dylan would like to say: “The Times They Are A-Changin’. And that’s what ARC is all about as we continue to grow and provide great value to ag PR professionals everywhere.

Although the 2016 annual meeting is still nine months off, work is beginning on the June meeting in downtown St. Paul at the Intercontinental Hotel – right on the Mississippi River. And ARC Board President Daren Williams, meeting chair, is working with ARC staff and other ARC Minnesotans to put together a tremendous program. crowne-plaza-st

For those members looking for more professional development, two years ago the format was changed as an extra half-day was added to the agenda. Here’s a brief look at how the agenda will be constructed:

Tuesday, June 21 – Board meeting and dinner. (Any members are allowed to attend board meeting.)

Wednesday, June 22 – Registration at 8:30 a.m., with the meeting beginning at 9 a.m. Meetings will run throughout the day. ARC business meeting will be held at lunch this day. The Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame banquet will be Wednesday evening.

Thursday, June 23 – Twin City-area farm/ranch/agribusiness tours. Upon returning from the tours, the evening banquet will feature the Golden ARC Awards presentation,

“Minnesota is a diverse agricultural state – from apples to corn to turkeys and much more,” Williams said. “Major agribusiness, from Cargill to CHS to Land O’ Lakes to Syngenta, are also very diverse and we look forward to a great meeting with our staff as hosts in their home state.”

Professional development workshops are still in the planning stages. So, mark your calendars for St. Paul on June 21-23. ARC members will get a rate of just $185 per night.

Do you want to be on the program committee for 2016? Please contact Daren Williams ( or Den Gardner at

See you next summer in St. Paul!


Membership Renewals Coming Soon for 2016

Help ARC Keep Growing

By Den Gardner, Executive Director

By early October you will be receiving your renewal forms for your 2016 membership in ARC.

They are due by Dec. 31. We’d LOVE to see those renewals on time to keep our office functioning with the lights on and the phone ringing!

The Agricultural Relations Council ( has 130 members entering 2016 and has grown each year since the association re-organized back in 2010. As you know, our membership includes all those who work in some form of agricultural public relations – from marketing agencies (big and small), agribusiness, state and national commodity associations (crop and livestock), national farm organizations, state/federal government ag agencies, and more.

Help us grow by renewing your membership and encouraging others in your office and colleagues around the industry to join us today.

Our Membership Committee is eager to work with you to grow ARC in the next year. ARC President Daren Williams has challenged all of us to grow by 20% our professional memberships of 100 people. Also included in our membership are the national officers and state chapter presidents of the Ag Communicators of Tomorrow, through a grant program funded through contributions from Gardner & Gardner Communications.

The Membership Committee is: Williams, Deron Johnson, Stephanie Meyers and Lindsey Murphy.

The more diverse our membership is, the stronger the value of that membership. ARC is a wonderful melting pot of a variety of people and skills in everything from large corporations to sole proprietorships. What our members have in common is a zeal for excellence in promoting agriculture.

When you look at our website, you’ll see how far the organization has come since ARC rose like a Phoenix from the flames six years ago. To keep growing, however, the organization needs ARC advocates who will go out, spread the word and find new members. Have your colleagues and contacts who are not yet ARC members visit our website and see why ARC is the only true organization for public relations professionals.

The ARC board continues to develop more value to your membership, including meaningful webinars and an improved interactive website. It’s important to keep ARC growing. The organization has risen from the ashes and the positive energy and motivation to make ARC thrive must be maintained. Let your colleagues know the value of belonging—the great networking, excellent annual conference and the professional development. For companies who want multiple employees to join ARC, we have developed a laddered membership offer that will provide a significant cost savings.   The laddered membership program works like this:

Member #1 — $190*

Member #2 and beyond — $115*

*A fully tax-deductible contribution of $15 is included for the ARC Foundation that will assist ag PR students in industry-related professional development.

ARC is interested in attracting quality members to our roster and make our organization the best in the ag communications industry. Renew today!


Applications Due March 15 for New Inductees of Ag PR Hall of Fame

ARC Hall of Fame 2016 Applications are due March 15 for the Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame, an award program honoring agricultural public relations professionals who have made lifetime contributions to the industry.

The program, sponsored by the Agricultural Relations Council and Agri Marketing magazine, will recognize its fourth group of recipients at the June 2016 ARC annual meeting in St. Paul, MN.

Previous winners have been:sTEVE dRAKE

  • Don Lerch
  • Lyle Orwig
  • John Harvey
  • Paul Weller
  • Richard Howell
  • Gary Myers
  • Steve Drake

Nominees must be current or past members of ARC to be considered. Inductees will be selected based on criteria including:

  • Years of membership in ARC;
  • Service to ARC (president, board member, committee chair, etc.);
  • Professional accomplishments/achievements in ag communications; and
  • Awards/Recognition in service to ag communications within ARC and also outside of the organization.

For 2016, up to two inductees will be chosen. Nominations will be reviewed and chosen by a committee of ARC members.

We hope all members of the agricultural communications community will consider nominating a deserving individual. Recognition of this type not only honors the individual, but validates all of the professionals who work in agricultural public relations every day.

For additional questions, please call the ARC office at: 952/758-5811. The 2016 nomination form is on the web site Or E-mail ARC at for more information.


The 2016 Golden ARC Awards Contest Update

By Adelita Tyson, Golden ARC Program Co-Manager

The 2016 Golden ARC Awards Contest call for entries might seem far off now but it will be upon us before we know it. There is exciting work occurring behind the scenes to ensure the contest is continuously improving, providing the most efficient methods for you to enter this prestigious contest for ag PR professionals.

Keep your eyes open in the coming months as we are planning a series of webinars to help ARC members develop their winning entries for media, marketing, and/or PR award programs. Information will include how to organize an entry, how to develop strong objectives, and what judges are looking for in a winning entry. We hope this information will help our contestants better understand what is expected from their submissions. These webinars will be open to all current ARC members.

Another new development is the creation of the Golden ARC Awards committee. This group of volunteer ARC members will offer insight and direction on how we can improve the contest for the upcoming year. Improvements may possibly include a newly designed website and restructuring of categories. If you would like to be a part of this committee please let us know.

Additional information can be obtained by calling Amy Keith McDonald or Adelita Tyson, the Golden ARC Awards Contest co-managers, at 254-445-4333, or by visiting the website,

Keep your eyes peeled for information about the upcoming webinars later this year. The competition announcement will be in January 2016!


ARC Starts Year Two of Scholarship Program for University Students Studying Ag Communications

The Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) is pleased to announce year two of its reinstated scholarship program for college students studying ag communications. The organization, through its foundation, will grant one, $1,500 scholarship for the 2016-2017 school year. Last year’s program had 23 applications.

ARC conducted a scholarship program up until about 10 years ago, then reinstated it last year. Through the financial contributions of 2014 Hall of Fame recipients Richard Howell and Gary Myers, along with pledges from several others in the organization, ARC is now back in the scholarship business.

The board is also looking at reinstating our internship program as well. A career in public relations can be satisfying and rewarding. Scholarships and internships are ways to show college students the value of pursuing jobs in this area.”

Notices of the scholarship program will be sent to universities now and January announcing the program. Students will have until March 1, 2016, to submit their applications. Among those contacted will be Ag Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) students through its state chapters.

Please direct all questions to the ARC office; email ARC at, phone: 952/758-5811.

DEADLINE: The 16 ARC Scholarship Program Application and all supplemental materials must be emailed (within one PDF file) no later than March 1, 2016. Application materials should be emailed to:

Barb Ulschmid, ARC


Accreditation Board beta testing new exam and working with PRSA to enhance APR marketing

Several initiatives are underway to strengthen and promote Public Relations Accreditation.  Building on the 50th Anniversary of Accreditation in 2014, the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) communications work group and Public Relations Society of America marketing committee have developed a long-range plan to enhance marketing of the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential.  PRSA allocated an initial budget of $40,000 and issued a Request for Proposal for the marketing effort.  Proposals are due Sept. 18.  Read more about the marketing effort under the “New and Notable” section, on the lower right side of the page of the Accreditation Web Site,

Also this year, the UAB is completing beta testing of a revised computer-based exam.  The exam is being revised based on updates to a public relations practice analysis, and ongoing feedback, to ensure that it reflects best practices in the profession.  Study materials will be updated during the remainder of 2015, with the goal of launching the revised exam in January 2016.

Certifications in other professions — including accounting, engineering, financial planning, insurance and others – have proven to advance trust, credibility and value.  ARC is one of eight public relations organizations offering PR professionals the opportunity to earn the APR credential.

ARC still needs a member who currently holds the APR credential to take over as Accreditation chair.  Contact Bob Giblin, APR, at or 920-397-6408, to find out more about how to earn Accreditation or to find out how you can help other ARC members, by serving as the ARC Accreditation chair.



 Create winning PR Award entries through good PR planning  Bob Giblin

By Bob Giblin, APR

November 5, 2015

12:30 p.m. ET (11:30 Central)


DavidWescott Social Media Tools Help You Gain Allies and Neutralize Critics

By David Wescott

November 17

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. ET (11:30 – 12:30 Central)

Past Webinars and Passwords:

March 2015 – 5 Ways to BEEF up Your Social Media Monitoring

By Joseph Hansen, Daren Williams

Password: ARCBeef7827


October 2014 – Taking Action When Activists Have You Up Against the Ropes

By Michael Rentiers, Reginald Hall

Password: ARCWater7827


March 2014 – Critics In The Online Sphere

By Janice Person

Password: ARCPerson4428


 ARC Silent Auction at AMS is a Success

The ARC Silent auction at the Ag Media Summit raised nearly $4000.  The funds benefit youth programs and will be split between ARC and AMS.  In total, 44 generous items were donated, and a big thank you to all ARC board members, each of whom contributed at least one item to the auction.AMSARC Auction Table OSU Auction Contribution

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.

Items receiving the highest bids included techie gadgets, University apparel and gift baskets. Oklahoma State had the highest bid of $350 among ACT chapters for their silent auction item.

The 2016 Ag Media Summit takes place in Hyatt Regency St. Louis at The Arch and we look forward to receiving your incredible donations.

Thanks in advance for your consideration.


Fall Calendar of Events 2015-2016PumpkinsandCornstalks

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March 1, 2016:  2016 ARC Scholarship Program application deadline

March 15, 2016:  2016 ARC Hall of Fame application deadline

March 31, 2016:  Golden ARC final entry deadline

June 22-25, 2016: ARC Annual Meeting

Intercontinental Hotel, St. Paul-Riverfront

St. Paul, Minnesota

Hotel Reservations: 1-800-628-2112 (Indicate you are with the Agricultural Relations Council group to get the $185 room rate.)

 July 25-26, 2016:  AMS/ARC Silent Auction

Hyatt Regency St. Louis at The Arch


New ARC Member 4th Quarter 2015

Welcome to: David Warner, National Pork Producers Council


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