Communicating with Diverse Audiences about Sustainable Farming: Does Rurality Matter?


  • Kristin E. Gibson University of Georgia
  • Alexa J. Lamm University of Georgia
  • Kevan W. Lamm University of Georgia
  • Laura A. Warner University of Florida



audience segmentation, best management practices, environmental policy, framing theory, rurality


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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How to Cite

Gibson, K. E., Lamm, A. J., Lamm, K. W., & Warner, L. A. (2020). Communicating with Diverse Audiences about Sustainable Farming: Does Rurality Matter?. Journal of Agricultural Education, 61(4), 156–174.




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