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Editor's Note: Gene Millard was named executive director of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB) earlier this year. He formerly served as NAFB director of marketing from 2002 to 2004 and has spent 40 years in the farm broadcasting industry as well as a lifetime of hands-on agriculture experience.

AM: How have NAFB's specific functions and programs changed in the past year?

GM: The NAFB membership voted in 2004 to restructure the membership into three divisions to more clearly define the membership and to provide additional inclusion of broadcast managers and staff into the organization. The "Broadcast Council" is comprised of the "on-air" farm broadcasters employed by a commercial station and/or network. The "Management Council" is comprised of all other broadcast professionals associated with a broadcast council member or members. The Management Council can now elect two representatives to serve as full members of the NAFB Board of Directors. The "Allied Industry" is comprised of all representatives of agricultural organizations, agricultural marketers and advertising/public relations firms. The chairman of the Allied Industry Council also is a participant with the Board of Directors in an advisory role.

The goal of this restructuring is to provide inclusion of the various entities into the policy and priority mission of the Board of Directors of NAFB to better serve the evolving dynamics of this industry.

AM: What are the primary objectives of the organization under your direction?

GM: One main objective of the organization is to elevate the awareness and appreciation for the unique values and personal relationships that farm broadcasters share with agricultural producers as the primary daily communications medium. To document and validate these values, NAFB continues in its long tradition of commissioning media use research of agricultural producers. This research assists member broadcasters in refining their direction in "super serving" the dynamic and evolving agricultural community. This research is also a valuable resource in helping agricultural marketers and agencies to utilize farm broadcasting as an integral part of advertising and marketing plans that influence producers.

Second, we want to enhance internal as well as external communication of valuable information and resources available for broadcasters and the Allied Industry. It has been a high priority to significantly expand the information available to broadcasters as well as Allied Industry at the Web site The focus in 2005 has been on both the Marketing and the Research sections, where anyone seeking detailed information has it available at a finger's touch. Electronic media kits containing detailed information about all NAFB member stations and networks are now posted. All recent qualitative media research, including Power Point summaries of research projects recently completed, also is available to the industry at

In addition, NAFB offers a unique platform for the agricultural marketing community to interface with farm broadcasters from across the nation. "Washington Watch," scheduled each spring in Washington, D.C., provides a national forum for agricultural organizations and associations to communicate their message. Also, the annual NAFB Convention in Kansas City each November is a magnet for agrimarketers to personally interface with farm broadcasters and disseminate messages to the nation's agricultural producers. "Trade Talk" has become a must-attend event for farm broadcasters and agrimarketers.

Finally, the National Farm Broadcast News Service (NFBS) is a daily news distribution service to NAFB broadcast council members and continues to be a valuable supplemental source of agricultural news for farm broadcasters. Peter Shinn, editor and director of NFBS, and Stacia Cudd, editor, collect and distribute news originated by NAFB broadcasters as well as timely news from numerous sources from allied industries. The NFBS Live Web site is being enhanced with a new Web host and additional content providers beginning in June 2005.

AM: What are some of the challenges and opportunities that you see in the farm broadcast industry and that NAFB plans to address?

GM: The challenges at NAFB are much the same as those of every other business organization in that we must continue to adjust to market conditions, member issues and audience dynamics, as well as agricultural communications and marketing objectives, to demonstrate value. The consolidation of broadcast entities presents an educational opportunity for farm broadcasters to explain to their management and ownership the value of serving the agricultural audience with this special programming.

NAFB continues to provide marketing tools for its member stations and networks to assist in the economic enhancement of advertising revenues at the local, regional and national levels. NAFB-produced resources are also available to assist agricultural marketers and advertising agencies with current qualitative research information on the value relationship and effective efficiency that farm radio brings to the agricultural advertising platform. In addition, when new participants in our industries come into this environment without prior agricultural communications experience or training, NAFB is a credible source of information for orientation and education.

The evolutionary divergence of agriculture, its structure and lifestyle preferences creates new opportunities for broadcasting and its ability to be the only effective local medium. The evolution of multiple households and multiple decision makers on a "commercial" farm creates a good environment for radio to provide service. Likewise, the rapid growth of rural lifestyle farm families also provides a valuable diversity that is served well by farm broadcasting. It's now the challenge to define and quantify these audiences and translate those values into a diversity of advertising to support farm broadcasters. AM


Numerous NAFB members attending the annual Washington Watch meeting in early May are shown with SUDA Secretary Mike Johanns.

The National Association of Farm Broadcasters' (NAFB) annual Washington Watch event was held May 1-3 and had a great member turnout. During a meeting with attending farm broadcasters, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced USDA will hold a nationwide series of listening sessions with farmers and ranchers in the months ahead to focus on their ideas about the next farm bill.

In making the announcement, Johanns told farm broadcasters, "You are an invaluable part of the agricultural community. You are not just a conduit for vital information, but you yourselves are leaders and advocates within your communities, and we recognize that. That's why I'm hoping you will help us." Johanns asked farm broadcasters to assist in site selection for the listening sessions and requested that farm broadcasters moderate some of the listening sessions as well.

NAFB Executive Director Gene Millard says he was gratified, but not surprised, by USDA's request for assistance. "Secretary Johanns and his team at USDA understand the unique trust relationship farm broadcasters have with their listeners, a trust relationship that's earned by bringing farmers and ranchers timely, accurate information they need to make agribusiness decisions, day in and day out," Millard says.

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