Ag Diversification on the Airwaves - Diversification Broadcasts to Inform and Inspire

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2005: $124,535.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Meg Moynihan
Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Agronomic: barley
  • Fruits: grapes
  • Additional Plants: trees
  • Animals: bees, goats, sheep, poultry
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Education and Training: networking
  • Farm Business Management: agritourism, new enterprise development, community-supported agriculture, marketing management, value added
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    Diversification is an important strategy for farmers looking to balance environmental performance, economic performance and quality of life/satisfaction on their farms. This two-year project will use a 40-station commercial agricultural radio network to tell the stories of farmers who are doing innovative things on their operations. The project will reach more than 350,000 farm and rural listeners each week with the voices of farmers who are growing new or non-traditional crops, integrating livestock, adding value to commodities, trying new marketing strategies, cooperating in unique business ventures, or managing their farmscapes and landscapes with special conservation or production methods. Our team is not aware of other efforts that use sponsored radio spots to reach mainstream agricultural audiences by delivering information and generating curiosity about sustainable agriculture. Expected outcomes go beyond simply increasing awareness, to increased grower adoption of diversification strategies and diversification activity by project partners and other agricultural institutions. Short and intermediate outcomes can be monitored and assessed using standard survey and feedback measurement techniques. Qualitative reflection by participants will evaluate project process. For less than a half a cent a week, these farmer-to-farmer broadcasts will inspire growers and broaden assumptions about sustainable options for 21st century farms.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project will use a series of regular radio broadcasts to disseminate feature profiles of innovative producers trying new strategies on their farms. After our pre-proposal was accepted by the Administrative Council, the project team met to refine our expectations and strategies for this two year project. We expect multiple changes will result from this project, including increased awareness, behavior changes, and institutional or systemic changes. All of these outcomes link to one or more of SARE’s desired outcomes for this research and education program. The number in parenthesis () after each of the outcomes listed below specifies the SARE outcome(s) we believe the project addresses.

    (1) improve profitability for farmers and agricultural businesses
    (2) sustain and improve environmental quality and natural resource base
    (3) enhance quality of life for farmers and rural communities

    Short term expected changes the team expects to observe during the lifetime of the project include:

    S1. Increased experimentation and awareness of farmers and rural citizens about the range and viability of ag diversification options (1 and 3)
    S2. Increased appreciation of the importance of sustainable agriculture and diversification to urban/consumer audiences (2)
    S3. Increased knowledge about NCR-SARE and MDA producer grant programs, projects, and recipients (1,2,3)

    Intermediate outcomes will move beyond awareness to measurable behavior changes such as:
    I1. More farmers seek information about and experiment with diversification options (1,2,3)
    I2. Closer working relationships among partners (3)
    I3. New friendships, collegiality among farmer team members (3)

    Long term expected outcomes are beyond the scope of this project but might include systemic changes such as:
    L1. Increased programs and resources committed to ag diversification (1,2,3)
    L2. Wider array of agricultural enterprises on MN farms (1,2,3)
    L3. More infrastructure for farming alternatives (3)
    L4. More successful farms on landscape (2)
    L5. Increased ag business opportunities in rural communities (1 and 3)

    Two kinds of audiences will be reached by this project. One is the direct audience for whom the project was conceived. The direct audience includes: farmers, rural residents, prospective farmers, landowners, and Minnesota Farmers Union members. The other audience is indirect – people who can’t help but be affected by hearing about successful models of diversified farming. This indirect audience includes consumers, ag educators, lenders, investors, entrepreneurs, public decision makers, and community leaders.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.