Express your thoughts about IFAJ News

To improve communications with members, IFAJ has been more active producing IFAJ News, distributing it every month and working to include a wide assortment of stories.

Have we succeeded? Does the newsletter meet your needs?
Let us know by taking a minute to participate in the IFAJ News survey. Please provide your opinion about the content, language selection and translation, and even note if you'd like to contribute.

Here is the link to the survey:

Kindly respond by December 31, 2012.

Prepare for 2013 IFAJ Congress in Argentina

Next summer, September 1-5, 2013, experience a congress like no other. A unique opportunity to travel to a far corner of the Earth, and set foot in new lands that you have never seen before. Get ready to follow in the footsteps of early European explorers, to discover a rich culture. In a country that stretches to one of the southernmost points of the world. Travel to a land once referred to as the world’s grainery, a land that has tripled production in the last 30 years and feeds more than 430 million people annually. And is propelled by advanced technologies and sustainable agricultural practices.

Begin preparing for IFAJ in Argentina today. 

British Guild publishes Congress 2014 details

Joe Watson
Great Britain

The British Guild has published a revised website providing members across the globe a taste of the 2014 Congress. Details are also provided about the pre and post-congress tours.

Successful New Entrant Training

British Guild of Agricultural Journalists

Guild member Steve Mitchell of ASM PR organized another successful guild training course and award for new entrants to agricultural journalism and communications. The 13 participants attended lectures and practical exercise sessions at John Deere’s UK headquarters in Notts before heading out for work experience placements assisted by a number of Guild members.

Since it began, 23 course members not already employed as journalists have been taken on by national farming and horticultural magazines and others have been employed at agencies. Two of this year’s course students – Louise Hartley and Dominic Kirby – attended the Guild harvest lunch to collect their John Deere Training Award prizes – see report here.

British Guild hosts Harvest Service

The British Guild of Agricultural Journalists hosted a Harvest Service in October. The service, is a traditional celebration held at what’s called “the journalists’ church” of St. Brides. The service was sponsored by Guild member Howard Venters of Shepherd Publishing.
A harvest lunch followed the service at Stationer's Hall. During the luncheon, the Guild's Yara Journalism Awards were presented. While the event is primarily to celebrate harvest and the Yara winners, it also serves as a fundraising activity for the guild’s Charitable Trust.

Editor’s note: an incorrect version of this article was published in the November IFAJ News. We apologize for the error. The correct version appears here.

Examining Frankenwords

Jim Evans
Agricultural Communications Documentation Center

We have heard them. We have used them. Frankenstorm. Frankenweenie. Frankenstrut. And, of course, "perhaps the most serious and widely used frankenword…is surely frankenfood."

Writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Geoffrey Pullum examined the unusual nature of what he described as frankenwords. "They do not connote the more general property of being made by grafting the etymologically genuine parts with independent meanings," he explained, "but by bolting together pieces ripped from living words ignoring the morphological joints."

You can read his article at:

IFAJ News December 2012

Encouraging Support for IFAJ

James Campbell
IFAJ Treasurer

The International Federation of Agricultural Journalists is committed to improving opportunities for agricultural journalists around the world – opportunities to expand their information networks, improve their skills and communicate across borders.

It is easy to talk about opportunities – but how do we make them happen?

The way we have done it so far is by the good efforts of people and the great financial assistance from supporters of IFAJ.

During the past few years, we have seen remarkable growth in opportunities put in place by IFAJ volunteers working in conjunction with Agriterra and several corporate sponsors. It has been very encouraging to find representatives of global companies genuinely interested in the professional development and outreach work that IFAJ has initiated.

Here is a list of supporters who have assisted during the past year. In alphabetical order – Agco International, Agriterra, Alltech, American Agricultural Editors’ Association, Bekina, British American Tobacco, DeLaval, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Interpolis, John Deere, Messe Berlin, Netherlands Guild of Agricultural Journalists, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Rabobank, SLU Global, Vion, Yara International.

As treasurer of IFAJ, I think it is useful to make clear the ethical guidelines under which our organization operates in relation to sponsorship.

IFAJ accepts sponsorships consistent with the federation’s mission and priorities and that do not compromise the organization’s freedom and integrity.

Sponsorships may be:
•    designated – specifically linked to a project of interest to the sponsor
•    undesignated – allowing IFAJ to allocate the funds to any of our initiatives

Sponsorships allow IFAJ to serve its members, expand its outreach and increase its offerings to journalists and other communicators.

Any newsletter reader wishing to financially support or introduce a sponsor to IFAJ, I ask that you contact any member of the presidium or the co-chair of the finance and sponsorship committee, Steve Werblow. We are keen to hear from any national Guild representatives who may be able to assist. You can contact us by email to secretary(at) or directly using the contact details in the website

I wish to thank the supporters listed above for the opportunities that they have helped IFAJ to provide during the past year. We look forward to your continued support in 2013, which will help make it a happy and prosperous new year for IFAJ…….and I hope it will be the same for you.

Thankful for IFAJ and global networks

Karlie Elliott Bowman
IFAJ News Editor

Life is good, isn’t it?

Here we are working for one of the most generous and prosperous industries in the world. That’s truly something to be thankful for. And, as members of the IFAJ network, we have each other to work with and essentially, “do life with.”

As an IFAJ member, I’m thankful for the opportunity to interact with so many in our organization and share our fellow members news through the IFAJ News. We work hard every month to share as much global news that’s beneficial to you and growing in your profession. We know we’ve made improvements over the past few years—and we know there’s more we can do. So, we encourage you to participate in the member survey detailed in one of this month’s stories. Also, we encourage you to send us your thoughts and news items. It’s always a pleasure to be in touch and learn more about activities from your country.

Thank you for reading IFAJ News, helping improve it and your global fellowship. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.

Kenya shows the other side of the Coin

Marc van der Sterren
The Netherlands

African agriculture is in many ways the opposite of western agriculture. Fifteen western IFAJ-members recently had the chance to report on social, environmental, economic and climate issues, in Kenya. Stories about feeding the world. And all from totally different perspectives.

It puts things in perspective when you see how a society works that lacks money, education, healthcare, social facilities, safety and good policy. You learn to appreciate how it’s organized back home.

Besides that, you find out what development means in daily life. There’s not much, but the economy is growing. A growing middle class spends more money. Cities are mounting and agriculture is getting more in line with modern times. Life is still hard, but people are optimistic about the future.

For example, milk. Kenya is one of the few African countries that is about self-sufficient. Milk production fluctuates extremely, depending on the season. This is why the country copes with regular milk shortages, but also exports a lot of milk.

Poverty is huge, but the potential is enormous. Kenyans spend on average 18 percent of their income on milk. A minimal drop in poverty represents a major boost for the milk. The FAO has estimated that every extra 100 liters of milk in Kenya produced by small farmers gains 3.7 jobs.

But small-scale farming does not have only advantages, especially while farms only get smaller. Cultural conventions order that parents divide their land between their sons. With increasing population, farms sometimes get smaller than a quarter of an acre.

So problems are many. Production costs are rising. Concentrated feed is mostly poor quality. Purchasing and sales are unorganized. Knowledge of farming is inadequate. Views on farming originate often from a nomadic past: when there is no green grass, there is no milk.

Editor’s note: Marc van der Sterren was one of the organisers of the IFAJ/Agriterra Exposure-4-Development Media Tour.

Sore jaws and surprises in Kenya

Chris McCullough
Northern Ireland

I was delighted to be chosen to be the sole UK and Ireland journalist among the 15 worldwide participants on the IFAJ/Agriterra Exposure 4 Development tour in Kenya. Although I have visited other African countries before I did not expect to be greeted with such passion about agriculture as displayed by the Kenyans.

Farmers in Kenya do not have very much to work with in terms of land but they sure are learning how to make the most of what they have. I was particularly struck with the common bond the farmers shared, no matter what their enterprise. The farmers have a huge hunger to learn new practices, new technologies and new management skills. Although Kenya is still decades behind western style farming I was encouraged when one of the farmers told me, "Don't slow down because we are catching up on you!"

Huge thanks must go to IFAJ and Agriterra for allowing me to be one of the guinea pigs on such a venture. Thanks also must go to Jose van Gelder and Rien Geuze from Agriterra who put a great deal of effort into arranging everything for the group.

Slovak agricultural journalists again prove organizational skills

Jana Janků

The Club of Agricultural Journalists (KPN) under the Slovak Syndicate of Journalists, members of IFAJ, is not a big club in numbers. However, the colleagues are vigorous journalists and zealous organizers. This year is the club’s 17th year of commitment to TOP AGRO, a competition of about 100 agro companies ready to present their achievements in public.

Results of such performers are evaluated and compared. The outcome is a list of the best companies within the agro sector in Slovakia. The ranking is done annually in the fourth quarter of the year.

Top Agro Slovakia has became a prestigious event and commitment.  Like previous years, about 300 guests were invited for an evening of awards to Cultural Center in Bojnice, the town with probably the most romantic castle in Slovakia. The organizing team under the leadership of club president Josef Sedlak and vice president Jana Janků organized the successful evening. Guild members Kristína Šmehýlová, Martin Jurčo and Sona Ludvighová, served as moderators and presenters.

This year was not easy. Ten members spent all summer in its hottest days roaming through fields and stables visiting agro companies and farms, interviewing, taking pictures and writing articles so that the traditional representative TOP AGRO Yearbook, under the careful eyes of editor Lora Dobrucká, was prepared in a timely way.

Organizers and club members were very pleased with the successful event and its draw to help attract  young, skilful smart journalists who joined club.