Special opportunity for young IFAJ members

Owen Roberts

An application form has now been posted on the IFAJ web site for first of the IFAJ awards contests this year, the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism Award.

This award is designed to promote and develop leadership potential in IFAJ, and in agricultural journalism and communications.

This award gives 1,000 Euros to a young journalist (35 years of age and under), to be used towards registration at the IFAJ congress in Canada September 14-18, 2011. Rules and application procedures are posted here.

New this year is two days at a professional development "boot camp" in Guelph, a training event designed to improve the leadership skills and journalistic abilities of the award winners. Alltech, the contest sponsor, has agreed to pay all costs for the boot camp, doubling its commitment from the past several years.

Also new this year is a multi-purpose application form, posted on the IFAJ web site. It was designed to help reach and identify as many young members as possible, to help standardize and formalize the application process and make the application process easier.

A key part of the application is a statement explaining why you, as the young member applicant, believe you have leadership potential.

Applicants will use the form to apply to their member guilds (see list here), stating why they think they have leadership potential. Guilds will sort through the applications, make their choices then forward the winning application (with supporting documents) to IFAJ Secretary General Owen Roberts by the April 15 deadline.   

Win-win from growth in Australian award prizes

Jane Milburn, Australia

Rewarding excellence in rural journalism with professional development opportunities supported through corporate partnerships provides a successful strategy for the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists (ACAJ) and its affiliated state clubs.

ACAJ president Liz Harfull says four outstanding Australian rural journalists will be sponsored to attend the September 2011 IFAJ Congress in Canada through an expansion of the guild’s prestigious awards program, including major new prizes worth $10,000.

For the first time this year winners of the John Deere Australian Star Prize for Rural Writing and the Rabobank Australian Star Prize for Rural Broadcasting will attend the congress, with sponsors providing airfares and registration. Meanwhile Alltech continues to support a specific Australian young leaders’ award and the Rural Press Club of Queensland will send the winner of its excellence award.

The suite of Australian Star Prize awards also incorporates a national competition for farm photography designed to fit in with the IFAJ Star Prize award, with categories for the best people, production and landscape/nature photos.

“We have been able to build this national awards program by leveraging the IFAJ professional development program,” Harfull said. “We hold national finals for all three major Star Prize competitions to generate local interest and make sure Australia is represented by the best our country can offer.”

“The awards are really starting to develop a high profile, and local journalists and photographers compete strongly for a chance to represent their country, encouraged by the success of Australians in the IFAJ Star Prize competitions since we started taking this approach. We also run selection finals at a State level through our local clubs, and they have been able to use the awards to attract new members. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors John Deere, Rabobank and Alltech, we are raising the profile of rural journalism, the state-based rural media clubs and the ACAJ, so it’s a win-win for everyone.”

Harfull said the Alltech, print and broadcast award winners will greatly benefit from the opportunity to explore and report on agriculture in another country, work alongside rural journalists and communicators around the world and build valuable professional networks.

Australia’s ABC Landline journalist Kerry Staight won the inaugural IFAJ broadcast award last year after taking out the television category and another ABC journalist, Sarina Locke, won the radio award. Australians have also done well in previous writing and photography awards, taking out individual categories and the overall photography prize in 2008.

Global animal nutrition company and IFAJ sponsor, Alltech continues to support the Alltech Australian Young Leaders in Rural Journalism Award, which has now sent five winners to IFAJ congresses.

After launching its Excellence in Rural Journalism Award in 2009, the Rural Press Club of Queensland will send this year’s Queensland winner to the IFAJ conference to follow in the footsteps of 2010 winner James Nason and inaugural winner Pip Courtney.

For more information visit www.acaj.org.au.

Guild of Agricultural Journalists initiates change

Great Britain

The Guild of Agricultural Journalists recently initiated a survey of their young members, defined as under 35 years of age, regarding activities and events they would like to see included in the Guild calendar.

The survey yielded good responses, providing detailed descriptions of member interest. Discussions on an initial program are taking place as a result of survey findings. The under 35 members now have a say and opportunity to get involved by joining the Guild’s new Facebook page to make their views and ideas known.

The Guild recently joined the social media movement and have accounts in the Facebook and Twitter communities. A more modern looking website will also soon go live. The Guild’s secretary, Clemmie Gleeson, will provide members snippets of information on these sites to keep members informed and promote debate, discussion and an exchange of views. The Guild hopes to also encourage online social interaction between members.

To learn more about the Guild of Agricultural Journalits search for “Guild of Agricultural Journalists” on Facebook and follow Gleeson’s tweets at Twitter. The Guild’s website is available at http://www.gaj.org.uk/.

Producer provides insight to farm subsidies at Oxford Farming Conference

England, Oxfordshire, Oxford, All Souls College, elevated view

Stephen Cadogan, Ireland

The annual Oxford Farming Conference in England always throws up interesting international agricultural topics, and the recent 2011 event was no exception.

In particular, Irishman Jim McCarthy gave a revealing presentation on a farmer’s view of the subsidy/no subsidy gulf that separates countries like Argentina and New Zealand from, on the other hand, Japan, the EU or the US.

McCarthy owes his success very much to EU farm subsidies, telling how the EU’s generous guaranteed grain prices allowed him and his wife to lease land and make the move from farm management to farming, but they had to move to the US and Argentina to become large-scale global farmers.

Their growth to involvement in farming over 30,000 acres is an interesting story, but even more provoking are McCarthy’s views that subsidies are a survival necessity for 80% of European farmers, and that they pay a very high price for their subsidies.

International agriculture figures prominently in several other Oxford Farming Conference papers, which are on the www.ofc.org.uk website.

Looking for a meeting topic?

Jim Evans, USA

You can find more than 80 possibilities in a new professional development feature on the IFAJ website. Those topics reflect dozens of issues, trends, ideas and skills that commanded the attention of agricultural journalists and communicators, globally, during 2010. The Agricultural Communications Documentation Center (ACDC) staff went scouting at year's end on behalf of IFAJ. It identified 86 professional improvement sessions carried out during 2010 by 21 agricultural journalist and communicator organizations in 11 countries. Those sessions featured topics in alphabetized categories that ranged from audience relations to writing and editing, with a dozen categories in between. More.

IFAJ News, February 2011 issue

IFAJ News- February 2011

Welcome to the February 2011 IFAJ News. It is a pleasure to share the organization’s latest news with you again this month. In this issue you will find updates from International Green Week in Berlin, information on how to register for the Congress, new professional development ideas, as well as recent news and updates from member guilds and members around the world. As always, many thanks to those who send in news and please continue to do so this year. Send your news to me at any time, but for the next issue please send it by March 10.
Karlie Elliott Bowman, Editor, kelliott3(at)gmail.com

The power of good ideas

Mike Wilson, IFAJ President

I've been reading the minutes from our executive committee meeting, held in Berlin last month during GreenWeek. While it's been a few weeks since the meeting, reading the minutes makes me energized for IFAJ all over again. It reminds me of a famous quote by Victor Hugo: "An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come."

It seems lately that the IFAJ has been full of ideas whose time has come. It's been exciting to watch them move from idea to reality.

By now many of you have read stories on the website about some of the projects we're working on. We have a new professional development contest open to all members, in writing, internet or broadcast formats. The contest, sponsored by global fertilizer company Yara, will identify the top entries that focus on a single theme – sustainable agriculture and ramping up food productivity by 2050. It's a compelling topic that many of us have already been writing, blogging or broadcasting about, since we all work in agriculture and food industries. You can learn all about it at the website.

Another great idea that is moving along nicely is our Master Class program, sponsored by Pioneer Hi-Bred International. IFAJ will host over ten journalists from developing countries at a two-day workshop just prior to the 2011 IFAJ Congress, to be held in Canada in September. And where did this idea come from? Our own Jacques Van Outryve, a journalist and executive committee representative from Belgium, host of the 2010 Congress. The Belgians brought several journalists in for a pre-congress meeting last April, and the idea has caught hold across the entire federation.

In fact, the IFAJ now gets regular inquiries from journalists in developing countries seeking to establish a relationship with us. We have set up a "Challenge 2020" committee, chaired by vice president Markus Rediger of Switzerland, to look into how or if IFAJ can become a more global organization. This committee worked feverishly throughout the GreenWeek, to come up with ideas for the future of our organization. The committee will continue its work and make recommendations in Canada.

Meanwhile, we are responding to these inquiries from Nepal, Pakistan, India and other countries, and establishing a 'friends of IFAJ' contact list. We do not have individual memberships for IFAJ, so when three or more colleagues contact us from a single country, we will work to help them establish a guild. We want to reach out and touch colleagues across the world, one way or another.

Our committees were working hard in Berlin, too. They had some pretty good ideas, including adding online polls and a simple online sign up link to keep in closer touch with IFAJ on important deadlines or other IFAJ news.

During the meeting in Berlin I stopped the meeting briefly to ask everyone to give me a one-sentence idea for how IFAJ can make itself more relevant to members. Here are some of the responses from our execs:

--Connect agriculture with food
--Build our credibility with Ag journalists worldwide
--Identify working journalists and appeal to them personally
--Provide important opportunities to write good articles
--Improve our web page – it's the face of the organization
--Let writers upload articles in their own language and ask them to explain the thought process behind the writing
--Get more working journalists to share their vision of their profession
--Challenge writers to provide us with their funniest story on the web
--Organize a conference for top writers, editors and broadcasters
--Add more videos and photos to our website, www.ifaj.org
--Visit a newspaper or other journalism office during a congress

These are great ideas! Such a list gives us another set of goals to look at as we move our organization forward.

What I have learned from my experience with IFAJ is this: never let an idea go unexamined, no matter how crazy it might seem. I remember a few of us sitting around a congress about 10 years ago, thinking that it would be fun to have an IFAJ photo contest. Naturally we ran through all the reasons why it could not be done – and then we did it anyway. Since the first IFAJ photo contest back in 2003, IFAJ members have submitted thousands of photo entries into the contests. You can enjoy some of the past winners at our website.

Good ideas are the engine that drives IFAJ. I'm confident there will be many more good ideas in the future. As always you can reach me at: mwilson(at)farmprogress.com

Berlin meeting brings more opportunities to IFAJ members

Stephen Cadogan, Ireland

The International Federation of Agricultural Journalists will open up more opportunities than ever in 2011 for communicators in the 30 member guilds around the world.

At their business meeting during the International Green Week in Berlin, the IFAJ presidium and executives from the member guilds unveiled improved rewards in all their professional development competitions, announced a strengthening of and major sponsorship for its annual Master Class for journalists from developing countries, and released details of an exciting new competition to encourage better reporting on sustainable agriculture, which offers a top prize of 3,000 euro (USD$4,000) annually.

In 2011, members in 30 IFAJ guilds can take part in competitions where more than 50,000 euro worth of awards will be on offer. But professional development rather than prize-money is the main objective for agricultural communicators taking part in the IFAJ DeLaval Star Award for Agricultural Photography, IFAJ John Deere Award for Agricultural Journalism, IFAJ Star Prize for Broadcast Journalism, IFAJ Yara award for Reporting on Sustainable agriculture, IFAJ Alltech Young Leaders award, and the IFAJ Pioneer Hi-Bred Master Class.

Sponsors DeLaval, John Deere, and Alltech are all increasing their commitments to agricultural journalism through IFAJ. Yara joins as sponsor of the valuable new award for reporting on sustainable agriculture. And Pioneer Hi-Bred joins as sponsor of the annual congress master class for journalists from developing countries, which is coordinated by Agriterra.

Details of all these awards are on the ifaj.org website, or will be available there closer to application deadlines.

Meanwhile, IFAJ is asking members in agricultural journalism guilds around the world to come up with a slogan as part of the shaping of its organizational strategy to 2020. The Federation’s executives are going back to their 30 national guilds seeking ideas for vision, mission and goals, to build going forward on IFAJ’s international contacts, annual congresses, awards, professional development, and high reputation. Strategy plans will be announced at the IFAJ congress in Canada in September, along with a catchy new slogan.

Cheesy business at Berlin meeting

Stephen Cadogan, Ireland

IFAJ leaders snacked on 900-year-old cheese during their business meetings at International Green Week in Berlin.

That’s how long Italian farmers and cheesemakers have been making Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Italian IFAJ executive Antonio Brunor presented the cheese to his colleagues of the IFAJ praesidium and executives, who attested to its enticing aroma and exclusive taste.

Gourmets consider Parmigiano-Reggiano as a splendid table cheese. Many consider it to be at its best at 24 to 30 months maturity.

Particularly for non-EU journalists, it was an interesting insight into the EU’s protection for unique foods like Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Under Italian law, only cheese made in a limited area in Northern Italy may be labelled “Parmigiano-Reggiano“, and European law classifies the name as a protected designation of origin. Special seals identify the product as authentic. Outside Europe, most notably in the US, commercially produced imitator cheeses may be legally sold under the generic name Parmesan. When sold in Europe, such cheeses are obliged to go under another name.

Hundreds of European heritage foods are protected by the EU’s protected designation of origin laws.

(The Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano is one of the sponsors of Italy’s agricultural journalists association, UNAGA.)

Prepare for IFAJ Congress 2011 today

Stephen Cadogan, Ireland
Karlie Elliott Bowman, USA

With registration for the 2011 Congress in Canada having opened just five days before the annual IFAJ business meeting in Berlin, many people had already at least partially registered to attend the Congress, said Canadian representatives.

Executives in Berlin also heard that preparations are going to plan for the 2012 Congress in Sweden, with a sustainable agriculture theme, and in Argentina in 2013.

Early registration for Congress is open. Register now through April 15 to receive the early registration rate. Attendees have the opportunity to choose from four pre and post congress options. Congress organizers, Owen Roberts and Lilian Schaer, have done an excellent job to provide options for touring Canada.

As members begin planning for their trip to Canada in September, remember that the main congress takes place in Ontario. Attendees will be shuttled from Pearson International Airport in Toronto to Guelph, Ontario, where the congress begins.

To aid with Congress travel, here are a few helpful links:
Canada's two major airlines-
Air Canada - www.aircanada.com
West Jet - www.westjet.com

Additional travel information-
Canadian travel information - www.canada.travel
Canada Border Services Agency - www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca
Citizenship and Immigration Canada - www.cic.gc.ca
Ontario travel information - www.ontariotravel.net

Interested in current travel rates. Here are a few found during a recent online search for September flights:

Departure                        Arrival                        Estimated Cost (USD)
Shannon, Ireland            Toronto                        $790- $939
Heathrow, England          Toronto                       $886- $973
Sydney, Australia            Toronto                        $2,770- $2,850
Chicago, USA                  Toronto                        $425- $485
Geneva, Switzerland        Toronto                        $809- $1,012
* Rates are estimated according to a general search at www.expedia.com as of February 2.

For more information on the Congress visit http://www.ifaj2011.com/, Twitter: @ifaj, or www.facebook.com/ifaj2011.