Framing of sustainable agricultural practices by the farming press and its effect on adoption

Niki A. Rust*, Rebecca M. Jarvis, Mark S. Reed, Julia Cooper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
76 Downloads (Pure)


There is growing political pressure for farmers to use more sustainable agricultural practices to protect people and the planet. The farming press could encourage farmers to adopt sustainable practices through its ability to manipulate discourse and spread awareness by changing the salience of issues or framing topics in specific ways. We sought to understand how the UK farming press framed sustainable agricultural practices and how the salience of these practices changed over time. We combined a media content analysis of the farming press alongside 60 qualitative interviews with farmers and agricultural advisors to understand whether the farming press influenced farmers to try more sustainable practices. Salience of sustainable agricultural practices grew between 2009 and 2020. Many of the practices studied were framed by the press around economic and agronomic aspects, and farmer respondents said the most common reasons for trying sustainable agricultural practices were for economic and agronomic reasons. The farming press tended to use more positive rather than negative tones when covering sustainable agricultural practices. Respondents used the farming press as a source of information, though many did not fully trust these outlets as they believed the farming press were mouthpieces for agribusinesses. Whilst a minority of farmers stated they were motivated to try a new sustainable agricultural practice after learning about it in the farming press, this was rare. Instead, the farming press was used by respondents to raise their awareness about wider agricultural topics. We reflect on the role and power given to agribusinesses by the farming press and what this means for agricultural sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-765
Number of pages13
JournalAgriculture and Human Values
Issue number3
Early online date21 Feb 2021
Publication statusPrint publication - Sept 2021


  • Agribusinesses
  • Content analysis
  • Farming press
  • Framing
  • Salience
  • Sustainable agriculture


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