Register now - Early bird closes march 31

You only have a few days left to catch the early bird special for the 2009 IFAJ Congress, to be held in Forth Worth, Texas, from July 31 to August 4. Find out more from organising committee chair Greg Lamp, and visit the website now to register and catch the cowboy spirit.

As vast as the Texas plains

The IFAJ Congress in Texas will coincide with the Ag Media Summit - an outstanding program of professional development seminars which draws hundreds of journalists, publishers, designers, public relations professionals and students from across North America every year. It will be a unique opportunity for IFAJ members to attend sessions with an oustanding line-up of speakers and presenters. Find out more...

Tour the best of Texas

Three tours will give IFAJ members the chance to explore Texas, its agriculture, scenary, food, wine and culture immediately after the 2009 congress. Read more about the itineraries for each tour, and book early to secure one of the limited places available.

Bring your publications too...

Organisers of the 2009 congress want journalists and photographers attending to bring a sample copy of the publication they work for. "We'd like to do a big display so everyone can see what the world works on," says organising committee chair Greg Lamp.

See what happened last time

The organisers of the 2008 IFAJ congress held in Austria and Slovenia received many interesting media articles written by participants about the event. Take a look... And if you have any reports about the pre-congress tour to Slovakia, don't forget to send them to Jana Janků at j.janku(at)chello.sk

Coming awards deadlines approaching

IFAJ Star Prize for Agricultural Photography
Photographers from guilds affiliated with the IFAJ have until May 1 to enter the prestigious IFAJ Star Prize for Agricultural Photography. This outstanding competition sponsored by DeLaval draws entries from around the world, attracting a diverse array of images that capture the many 'faces' of farming - its peole, landscapes and technology.

And for print journalists too
While individuals can enter the award for photography, only national guilds can nominate entrants for the 2009 Star Prize for Agricultural Journalism (Print), sponsored by John Deere. Guilds have until June 1 to select their national finalists. The winner will be announced via the IFAJ website on July 15.

NOAH Awards
Journalists in Great Britain have until March 27 to enter the NOAH's Writer and Broadcaster of the Year awards for pieces reportint critical aspects of animal health, welfare and management. Click here for more information and entry forms.

Eureka Awards
Entries are now open for a major Australian program honouring excellence in science communication and journalism. Presented annually by the Australian Museum, the prestigious Eureka awards offer individual cash prizes of A$10,000 in four categories, including environmental journalism, promoting understanding of science, science journalism, and science photography. Entries close May 1, 2009. Click here for further information or email eureka(at)austmus.gov.au

More coming events

"Communicating the Science of Climate Change in a Sceptical World" symposia organised by Australian Science Communicators (ASC), Perth, Australia - March 24, 2009

"Hot ideas and sizzling solutions" - 2009 Agri-Marketing Conference sponsored by the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) in Atlanta, Georgia USA - April 15 to 17, 2009

"When tillage begins, other arts follow" - ACE.NETC.09 sponsored by the National Extension Technology Conference (NETC) and the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE), in Des Moines, Iowa USA - June 6 to 10, 2009

Issue February - March 2009

IT'S TIME TO SADDLE UP FOR TEXAS

Planning for the exciting 2009 IFAJ Congress in Texas is in its final stages, and registration is now open for the event. This edition features information about how to register, the congress program and the post-congress tours, as well as the latest news from members around the world. Don't miss the stories on landmark events for our colleagues in Serbia and Ukraine. Look in the righthand column for more coming events and the awards now open to IFAJ members.

Liz Harfull, Managing Editor, IFAJ E-News

Women on the winners list in Germany

The German Federation of Agricultural Journalists (VDAJ) has honoured Dr Angelika Gördes-Giesen for her series of stories about women in the countryside, published in the Schleswig Holstein Journal. EU Commissioner for Agriculture Mariann Fischer Boel presented her with the 2009 VDAJ Communication Award during International Green Week in Berlin, reports Katharina Seuser.

Serbia celebrates anniversary in style

The Serbian Association of Agricultural Journalists has celebrated its 4th anniversary with a special event attended by dignitaries representing countries as far as the United States, Finland, Italy and the Russian Federation. Goran Djakovik reports on the stellar occasion, which included the guild's annual awards.

Ukranian journalists learn more about GMOs

The Ukraine's Union of Agrarian Journalists held a three-day workshop on one of the most controversial issues in modern agriculture - genetic engineering. The workshop brought together 30 agricultural journalists and prominent Ukranian scientists from two leading academies. It was so successful there are plans to hold regular events, reports Iurii Mykhailov.

Winners announced in African journalism awards

Journalists from about 20 countries participated in the CGIAR-FARA 2008 Awards for Excellence in Agricultural Science Journalism, held in Africa. Read more about the efforts of major winners Wandera Ojanji of the East African Standard in Kenya and Patricia Oyella of WBS TV in Uganda, or visit the announcement on CGIAR's website.

IFAJ leaps ahead with 2015 plan

The IFAJ Executive Committee met in Berlin to continue working on its 2015 strategic plan, reports Janet Kanters. "We know we have a great organization that can provide innumerous benefits to our membership. Therefore, we are striving to ensure those benefits are communicated not only within the organization, but to those who are interested in joining," said president Mike Wilson.

The future of rural journalism in Australia

Brooke Hargraves has won the inaugural JB Fairfax Scholarship for Rural Journalism in Australia. The A$10,000 award has been established through a private donation by John B. Fairfax, a director of the company which owns Rural Press Limited in Australia and Farm Progress in the United States. Read Brooke's winning article and find out more about the award.

And Canada celebrates a new generation farm communicators

The first graduates from the University of Guelph's agricultural communications diploma program have been recognised at a special ceremony in Canada. The program is offered through open learning, making it available to anyone anywhere with internet access. Find out how to apply for autumn 2009.

Help fight for a free press

What can journalists do to support freedom of the press? The IFAJ discussed the issue in a special session at Green Week in Berlin. Guest participants included International Press Institute director David Dadge and Reporters Without Borders Berlin-based director, Elke Schäfter. Read more about the debate in English or German.

Beautiful images honour the humble potato

Professional and amateur photographers from 90 countries entered a world contest run by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations to mark the International Year of the Potato last year. First prize in the professional category went to Eitan Abramovich of Peru, while the top amateur prize went to Xi Huang of China. It is well worth taking a minute to view the entries.

Elections and awards in South Africa

Hugo Lochner has been re-elected president of the South African guild, which has also honoured the country's leading farmers and photographers. Read more... But in less happy news, former president Joël Kotzé has died suddenly at the age of 54, reports colleague Charl van Rooyen.

Publication ends in Madagascar

The New Peasants monthly publication in Madagascar has closed after more than 20 years, Jules Ravelomanana explains in French: Les Nouveaux Paysans n'apparaît plus depuis le mois de Décembre dernier malgré ces 20 années d'existence. "La lettre de recommandation que nous avions adressée récemment à l'endroit du FIDA exige en quelque sorte que s'il y aura un financement en faveur des journaux agricoles à Madagascar, cet appui devrait renforcer les publications déjà existante, mais non pas pour une nouvelle publication," dixit Mme Colette Andrianavosoa, Secrétaire générale de l'AJCDR.

Blue Ribbon book a prizewinner for Liz

IFAJ E-News managing editor Liz Harfull is off to France after winning an international prize for her first book. The Blue Ribbon Cookbook is a collection of stories, recipes and secret tips from amateur country cooks in South Australia who have won prizes competing at agricultural fairs and shows. The book has been named a finalist in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards which will be announced at the historic Comedie Francais theatre in Paris on July 1.

Justin does it again

A journalist who was named runner-up in last year's IFAJ Star Prize for Agricultural Writing has won the overall award in the Irish Guild of Agricultural Journalists annual awards program. Justin McCarthy from the Irish Farmers Journal won the honour for a series of articles on the Brazilian beef industry, reports Stephen Cadogan. Menawhile, another member of the guild, Michael Patten has been appointed global public policy durector for Diageo, one of the world's largest multinational beverage companies.

Reporters go beyond borders in award wins

Two Northern Ireland guild members have achieved success outside their home land. Richard Wright has been named Columnist of the Year in Scotland for his highly respected and thought-provoking Roger Taylor column in The Scottish Farmer, while Brian Black and the team at Evergreen Media were runners-up in a UK television documentary competition. Their highly-praised film on climate change was set in the Arctic and combined Black's expertise as a journalist and a sailor.

A touch of the Titanic

A table once destined for the famous but ill-fated ship, RMS Titanic, took centre stage at a meeting of the Northern Ireland Guild of Agricultural Journalists. Read more...

Media forum debates importance of tobacco

The Serbian guild has hosted a special working session to explore the impacts of increasing a special tax on tobacco in Serbia and government proposals to reduce the financial incentives for growing tobacco. In this report, Eric Slavoljub explores the various opinions and suggestions put forward at the event and the challenges its tobacco industry is facing.

Swiss guild looks at cheese exports

Cheese is by far Swiss agriculture's most important and famous export. But these exports are now facing new difficulties with a free trade agreement between Switzerland and the EU, effective since June 2007. The agreement abolished export subsidies, which makes it difficult for Swiss cheese to compete in neighbouring countries. At the same time, competition on the domestic market has intensified with more foreign cheese pushing its way onto local retail shelves. At its traditional January event, the Swiss guild learnt about these developments and a survey by Ulrich Wenger, comparing the performance of Swiss cheese and competitors from neighbouring Austria. Read the results.

Change of address for Japanese guild

The Japan Agricultural Journalists' Association (JAJA) is moving to a brand new building in the central Tokyo in May. The JA tower is one of three in a new complex which includes the Nikkei Newspaper and the Japan Business Federation.

Visit a new website for Slovakia

The Slovakian guild for agricultural journalists has launched a new website. It provides a connection with the guild's main activity, the Top Agro Slovakia awards, which honours the country's best farmers. Photos from the IFAJ congress tour to Slovakia in September 2008 are also on the site.