Date of Graduation

12-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural & Extension Education (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Agricultural Education, Communications and Technology

Advisor

Jefferson Miller

Committee Member

Michael Looper

Second Committee Member

Kate Shoulders

Keywords

Agriculture, Agricutural Communications, Social Media

Abstract

The two articles in this thesis used content analysis to analyze and compare animal welfare related website and Twitter content of the top five animal protein producing companies in the United States. In the first article, the animal welfare website content of Cargill, Tyson Foods Inc., Smithfield, JBS® and Sysco were analyzed for persuasive frames, common topics, and key terminology to describe their corporate positions on animal welfare. Sysco’s main page devoted to animal welfare dominated the word count with 1,045 words, while JBS®’s main animal welfare page used only 265 words to communicate the company’s views. The most commonly identified topic was policy. The predominant frames were being recognized as an industry leader and animal care vs. profit.

In the second article, researchers conducted a similar content analysis on the Twitter efforts of the five companies and their audiences. Tweets relating to animal welfare originating from the companies and audiences were collected from November 2016 to May 2017 and were coded for common topics, persuasive frames, and tone. The Twitter traffic was compared to findings from the first study, which described the companies’ animal welfare web pages. Findings indicated it was common practice for the companies to tweet rarely regarding animal welfare. In fact, only three tweets related to animal welfare topics were identified among the companies’ Twitter traffic in the period that bounded the study. Cargill and Smithfield, the only two companies to produce tweets, were able to communicate key animal welfare messages, such as being an animal welfare industry leader and having strong animal welfare policies, in both their websites and tweets. The other 156 tweets consisted of audience members tweeting at or mentioning one of the five companies. While the audience members also communicated the industry leader, animal care vs. profit and zero tolerance for abuse frames, the tones toward the industry’s production practices (positive, neutral or negative), played a role in defining the audience members’ key messages. Cargill’s audience produced the most positive tweets with 57, while Tyson Food Inc.’s audience was predominantly negative with 52 total negative tweets.

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