Sunday, December 11, 2011

What's in a name? "country" versus "bountiful"?

The California Farm Bureau recently announced a change in the name of its "award-winning" magazine and television show. What has for years been known as "California Country" has become "California Bountiful." Here's what the California Farm Bureau said about the change:
CFBF President Paul Wenger said the new title reflects the diversity of farming in California today, and the fact that all Californians benefit from a vibrant, sustainable agriculture.

"Food is typically grown in the country, but it involves people in every part of the state. California Bountiful introduces readers and viewers to the people, places and products that make up the fabric of our rich agricultural environment," Wenger said.

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Under its new name, the California Bountiful television program will reach more viewers thanks to a grant that supports the show's goal of connecting urban and rural California.

I agree that California is bountiful--and I'm all for pointing out to folks the web of connections between rural and urban. Still, I'm wondering if the change reflects the organization's perception that it needs to distance itself from the, well, countrified image associated with the word "country."

Here's a link to the Farm Bureau's press release about the name change.


KevinN said...

It sounds like the Bureau might be attempting to market itself more to urban residents with an interest in farming than the rural audience it currently has. More people in cities that are involved in urban agriculture means a greater audience for the magazine and television show. Is this just another example of how urbanites are co-opting the rural?

Patricija said...

The answer to your question of "what in a name" is "quite a lot actually." The way organizations, private and government, "brand" themselves speak to what they value (and what they don't) and signal who their target audience is. I must agree with Kevin conjecture that by changing the name from country to bountiful, they are trying to appeal to urban residents.

Further, I think the term "country" is losing the appeal it once had. While some still associate the term with lush fields and families living in tranquil self-sufficiency, people are beginning to learn more about the realities of rural life, many of which shatter these previous idyllic stereotypes. As that terms becomes less palatable, time comes to shift to something more pleasant that doesn't remind people of the harsh realities of life.

Dave Kranz, California Farm Bureau Federation said...

Thank you for your interest in the new title of the California Farm Bureau magazine and television program, California Bountiful. Rather than characterizing the change as a move away from anything, I would describe it as a move toward a broader definition of what agriculture means to people in our cities and suburbs. They are the audience for the magazine and TV program—always have been—and the new title reflects our effort to meet them more than halfway. Farm Bureau continues to provide a variety of communication services for rural residents, as well, including Ag Alert, which is the most-read agricultural newspaper in California. Through our publications, broadcasts, websites and social media, we’re working to reach as many people in as many places as possible with information about the family farmers and ranchers of California.

Dave Kranz
California Farm Bureau Communications/News Division