IFAJ 2017 World Congress South Africa

Taking place between the 2nd and 8th of April 2017 in Gauteng- and the Western Cape. 
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IFAJ 2018 - The Netherlands

Theme: Dutch Roots

Main congress: 12- 15 July 2018

The main congress will start in the region Food Valley and further visits are planned to a diversity of hotspot in the Netherlands.

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Who tells the true story?

Riitta Mustonen
Finland
Secretary General

Consumers were shocked recently when they saw videos that activists had taken secretly on pig and chicken farms. They felt misled and decreased their meat consumption.

This raised a discussion among agricultural journalists in Finland: whose duty is it to tell consumers about modern agriculture? Show them how animals are treated on big and efficient farms, point the fact that if you want cheap food, the cost is this. No more farming by the style of the Little House on the Prairie.

But is it our duty as agricultural journalists to inform consumers?

This was asked in a debate organized by Finnish Agricultural Journalists guild. A member of the guild, Elina Lappalainen had written a book about animal welfare, Grown to eat, and won the prize for the best non-fiction book of the year.

Lappalainen challenged journalists to go to farms and tell people about the real circumstances, show the audience how food is produced nowadays on farms.

Lappalainen told journalists they have outsourced reporting to the authorities and activists instead of telling the story themselves. Journalists rather quote authorities, researcher and other sources than go to the spot and report directly what they hear and see.

One problem seems to be that at least in Finland in the common newspapers/tv/radio there are not any journalists who are specialized in agriculture. The editorial staff is reduced to the minimum and there is less and less time for investigative journalism.


We, who call ourselves agricultural journalists, work mainly in the professional site communicating to the people who are already inside the branch. The viewpoint and message is then different.

But maybe also we could change the perspective. If we find out that for example animals are suffering due to the lack of legislation, this could lead to changing the laws.


The fact is that if consumers don’t know enough about farming, they are not willing to pay more for better food producing.