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NCT183 proposal to AES

Hello All --

As a member of Agricultural Communicators in Education (
http://www.aceweb.org/ ) I received the following announcement.  I pass
it along mostly as a bit of news, but also thinking some folks might
want to contact the researchers.



Subject: SIG News 3 - Invitation: NCT183 proposal to AES
Date: Sat, 13 Jan 2001 14:39:50 -0800
From: Joan Thomson <jthomson@psu.edu>
To: ace_research_mg@www.aceweb.org, ace_acad_sig@www.aceweb.org
CC: Lois W Morton <lwmorton@iastate.edu>

Colleagues -  Given your intersts in communications in agricultural and
the food systems, you may be interested in joining this proposed
regional research project.  If you are interested or have questions,
contact Lois Morton, Iowa State, ASAP but no later than the end of

Joan Thomson
Chair, ACE Research SIG

X-Sender: lwmorton@lwmorton.mail.iastate.edu (Unverified)
Date: Tue, 09 Jan 2001 16:29:17 -0600
To: NRI-NCT183@iastate.edu
From: Lois W Morton <lwmorton@iastate.edu>
Subject: Invitation: NCT183 proposal to AES

Please share this message with your colleagues:

NCT183 met Jan 5-7, 2001 in Chicago to develop a proposal for an AES
NC183. Our central research question is How do agriculture and food
systems impact community health? We have identified four objectives that
will begin to answer this larger question. Below is a beginning draft
document that will give you a flavor of what we are proposing. Thanks to
members of our core committee who identified objectives and developed
supporting methodologies. Now, we want to invite you to read our
objectives and think about your own research agenda and possible
matches. While each of these objectives could be carried
out as single research initiatives, we believe strongly that what we are
undertaking is a systems approach to thinking about how food,
agriculture, and community systems interact and overlap to impact
community health in a global food system. This means that our four
objectives represent different dimensions of the same phenomenon and
that we need to integrate findings across objectives in order to
understand the larger picture. This is essential if we are to develop
local, state, and national public policies and practices that really
support human and environmental health of our communities.

We currently have 9 states that have agreed to participate in this
project (NY, IA, TX, WA, Calif, Minn, Mich, NJ, PA). As a
multi-disciplinary, multi-state project, we invite additional
researchers in these states to undertake these objectives and we
welcome other states who are interested in one or more objectives. If
you are interested please contact Lois Wright Morton  at
Iowa State University (lwmorton@iastate.edu) 515-294-2843 IMMEDIATELY.

Our 15 page proposal must be complete by January 29, 2001 for review by
NC committees.


Systems Analyses of Impacts of Agriculture and Food Systems on Community

Agriculture, food, and communities are three distinct systems that
interact and overlap in important ways that improve and compromise human
health. Each of these systems has changed over the past several decades
with significant implications for health outcomes. Variations within one
or more of these systems are sources of variation in health across
communities and population segments. Problems of community health are so
complex no single analysis or isolated research can provide a full
picture of how these systems fit together in a dynamic way. This project
proposes to build multi-dimensional knowledge of changes in agriculture
and food systems within globalized economies and their impacts on
community health.

GAP in knowledge
This research addresses three of the five national research priorities
of the Land Grant experiment stations: 1) relationship of
food to human health, 2) rural community vitality, and 3) environment,
natural resources, and landscape stewardship. Science
has and is continuing to build a wealth of knowledge about individual
pieces of these systems. Research on structure of
agriculture, communities, and food systems individually provide
understandings of how these systems operate. However, there are critical
interactions among these systems that are powerful influencers of human
health. What is not known is how food systems, agricultural structures
and community problem solving responses interact to affect population
health.  This is a problem because policies and practices that support
agricultural production, food distribution, nutritional interventions,
and community development may not lead to better health outcomes.

Our long range goal is to build knowledge on how agriculture and food
systems impact community health. The central hypothesis for this
research is that variations in the structure of agriculture, food
systems, and communities are associated with variations of population

We are particularly well prepared to undertake the proposed research
project because it includes researchers from multiple states and
disciplines with expertise in agricultural systems, communities, food
systems, and health.  ___ states have agreed to participate. Researchers
include sociologists, communication specialists, food and nutrition
scientists, agronomist, .....

We plan to test our central hypothesis by pursuing four research

Objective 1. Determine the consequences of agriculture and food systems
on the health of distinct populations.
Distinct populations that this project will examine are 1) rural and
urban populations, 2) low income 3) age  4) race/ethnicity and 5)
regions/counties/communities/neighborhoods with high and low problem
solving capacities. The characteristics of specific populations make
them vulnerable in terms of health to how agriculture and food systems
are organized. The physical and social infrastructures that support a
community food supply affect food availability, access, and quality.
This means that the density and type of food stores, eating places,
farmers' markets, community gardens, etc. and community organization
around food issues will have an influence on health outcomes of distinct
[Note: this would be a good objective for EFNEP/FSNEP researchers to

Objective 2. Determine the impact community problem solving around food
issues has on population health.
Food problems are socially constructed. Problem definition often
originates in the media. It is the media that sets the agenda for action
or inaction. Community awareness and interpretation of food issues and
the way individuals and groups participate in problem solving as a
result of knowledge influence the political and social infrastructure
(including laws and public actions) that support or constrain population
health. This knowledge can mobilize groups to collective actions and
offer reasons for building coalitions, collaborations, and partnerships.

Objective 3. Determine the relationships among collective actions,
agriculture and food systems, and population health.
Civic agriculture provides an important framework for developing
alternative systems of agriculture, food distribution, and community
support for healthy environments and human health. Bottom up social
pressures around agriculture and food issues impact health by changing
organizational and public rules and policies. These grass root
activities include collective actions around agricultural industry work
conditions that affect health, organized groups who support alternative
agricultural production patterns, alternative lifestyle groups in
support of improved health and recreation opportunities, and concerns
for distribution of food resources for vulnerable populations.

Objective 4. Determine the relationships between the scale of the
agri-food system and population & landscape health.
The industrialization of agriculture and the globalization of the food
system have brought new foods, marketing strategies, and
innovations that have changed the consumption patterns of Americans and
the environmental/landscape patterns of American lands and waters. Many
of these impacts are the result of changes in the concentrations and
scale of agricultural and food businesses. What are the relationships
between community health and changes in the scale of these systems?

DRAFT outline of Research methods
Unifying Methodologies
All objectives include the collection, analysis and interpretation of
qualitative and quantitative data (primary and secondary) on
specific geographic locations. Units of analysis will range from county,
community, to neighborhood depending on objective and participating
researchers. Places of study will be selected to allow data to be
collected on multiple objectives. This will permit
incorporated comparisons of particular places yielding a
multi-dimensional view of systems impacts on health.

For example: Objective 4  Scale of agriculture will use the following
criteria for selecting counties in each state
First qualifying criteria: Only counties with at least 100 farms, then 7
specific counties per state that meet these criteria:
1.      counties with highest and lowest concentration of farms based on
gross value (1997)
2.      county with highest percent land in agriculture (1997) (case
study analysis from 1950-1997 noting change and impact on landscape and
human health over time)
3.      counties with highest and lowest percent of direct marketing
sources for food for consumption
4.      counties with highest and lowest county fertilizer sales per

Objectives 1 and 2 will use these same counties to examine rural aspects
and link these systems to population health. Media content analysis,
communication messages from media sources, rural food supply (food
deserts), and issues of poverty, race/ethnicity, and age are parts of
these analyses.

Urban areas will use neighborhoods as their unit of analysis for
objectives 1 and 2. Key informant surveys will be used to collect data
on food supply and community infrastructures. Secondary data and
individual surveys will collect health data and food practices.

Objective 4, Collective action will use whole communities to analyze
informal and formal group organizations and activities related to food
and agricultural issues. Population health outcomes information will be
derived from secondary and primary data collection. This objective will
seek places within states to study that:
*have at least one food policy council (community, city, region)
*have high numbers of alternative food initiatives
*have high percent of employees in food processing
*have high and low places with registered organic farmers
*have a high number of direct marketing outlets

Places selected for objective 4 may overlap urban and rural regions
selected by objectives 1,2, and 4.

Core NCT183 Participants
Lois Wright Morton, Iowa State University
Tom Lyson, Cornell University
Chery Smith, Univ Minnnesota
 Patricia Allen, Univ California, Santa Cruz
 Ray Jausaume, University Washington
 Lorna Michael Butler, Iowa State University
 Toby Ten Eyck , Michigan State University
 Alex McIntosh, Texas A&M
 Joan Thomson, Penn State
Don Wyse, Univ Minnesota
Liz Tuckermanty, CSREES

Lois Wright Morton, Ph.D.
Department of Sociology
303E  East Hall
Iowa State University
Ames, Iowa  50011-1070
Tel: 515-294-2843
Fax: 515-294-0592
email:  lwmorton@iastate.edu

Joan S. Thomson, Ph.D., CFCS
Associate Professor
Department of Agricultural and Extension Education
323 Ag Admin Blding
University Park, PA 16802
V: 814-863-3825
F: 814-863-4753

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