Guus ten Hove, The Netherlands

Saddle up! A great journey in the ‘wild-west’

IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism Award recipient 

Together with 120 other international journalists and over 500 American colleagues I joined the IFAJ congress in Fort Worth. It was a great experience. In 10 days I saw a lot of interesting presentations, I joined workshops, and we travelled across Texas to get a good impression of agriculture in Texas. This all happened in a great atmosphere: friendly people, lots of party’s and good food and music.

One of the best things of a congress is to meet with many colleagues from all over the world. I spoke with people from almost every continent in the world. It is interesting to hear that journalists from all over the world face the challenges. One of them is the change from print to online journalism. I found out that many of my colleagues are struggling with that. Exchanging ideas and hearing from each other how to deal with this topic was very helpful for me. Another good thing is that I was able to build up my international network. I am sure that this will help me when a need a good source in some country.

The presentations of Loring Leifer were one of the most interesting. She clearly explained how to organize your work in order to make the best publications. This is of great importance because the amount of information is growing fast. Loring Leifer gave valuable tips to organize the information and put it together in the most attractive way.

Although the time inside the hotel was very great, the trips to the country side were even better. That’s the place were ag-journalists want to be! During the trips I got a good impression about how agriculture looks like in Texas. Because it was my first trip to the USA I was struck by the size of all the farms. In the Netherlands the biggest farms have 500 cows. In Texas we visited a 10.000 cow operation. The same story for cattle, cotton and other farms. They are huge!

After the congress I joined the post-congress tour to west Texas, the panhandle. During this trip our tour guides Burt and Larry showed us all about agriculture in this part of Texas. At the 6666-ranch we learned what ranching is and how it changed over the years. Cowboy boots O’Neill had explained that to us. When he started, cowboys were young single man. “Today cowboys are married, drive cars and have holidays”, he explained to us in a funny way. Besides the 6666-ranch we visited other ranches, a cotton farm, a cotton mill, a feed yard, and other interesting places. This was of course only possible with good meals, so we ate steak two times a day! The things I saw during the post-congress tour were all very valuable for the stories I wrote about agriculture in Texas.

Looking back on the time in Texas brings up a lot of good memories. I am very glad that I received the Alltech scholarship in order to be able to attend the congress. I am sure I will benefit from this experience during the rest of my career. I hope to meet you all in the upcoming congress in Belgium. 

Guus ten Hove, editor of agricultural magazine ‘Boerderij’ in the Netherlands.