IFAJ 2011 Congress Quickly Approaching

Kelly Daynard

Plans are in the final stages for the 2011 IFAJ congress, which starts in two short months. The congress is now completely sold out – with 260 delegates planning on making their way to Canada from 33 countries around the world.

A number of speakers will also be joining the congress in Niagara Falls for a day of professional development on Saturday, September 17. The theme for the session is "Sustainability — what issues are we missing?"

The need to produce more food, and to do it sustainably, has become a major issue and is now widely covered by both agricultural and mainstream media. However, there has been some tendency for coverage of the issue to become focused on a single aspect, usually genetics. While improved genetics may hold great promise, there are other concerns — soil health, the role of smallholder and women farmers, adequate storage and other means to avoid food waste, transportation infrastructure, etc.  We've assembled a panel of speakers to address some of these concerns.

Confirmed speakers include:

Professor James Muir
is International development and research advisor and evaluator professor emeritus, University of Stirling, Scotland. Professor Muir was lead expert adviser for UK Government Foresight Programme on Global Food and Farming Futures http://www.bis.gov.uk/foresight/our-work/projects/published-projects/global-food-and-farming-futures, a major report released earlier this year. Professor Muir will open the session with some background and overview of the report's conclusions.

Jill Clapperton is a former rhizosphere ecologist for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Lethbridge, Alberta and and current owner of Earthspirit Land Resource Consulting, based on her ranch in Montana. We've asked her to address the soil-health component of the sustainability challenge.

Kevin Perkins
is executive director of Farm Radio International www.farmradio.org, a Canadian-based NGO that works with farm broadcasters in Sub-Saharan Africa to deliver information through the cheap and effective means of radio. We've asked him to provide a perspective on delivering information to farmers who do not have access to First-World farm media or extension resources.

Terry Daynard is a former professor of crop science at the University of Guelph in Ontario, and former executive director of the Ontario Corn Producers Association. Along with Karen Daynard, he has recently authored a report on the effect of biofuels on world hunger http://gfo.ca/FoodvsFuel.aspx, and we've asked him for an international perspective on biofuels and agricultural sustainability.

All registered delegates are also reminded that they should be updating their delegate profiles at www.ifaj2011.com with their flight information, as soon as possible. This will ensure that congress organizers arrange shuttle services for the delegates to and from Pearson International airport in Toronto.

If you have any questions, as you make your travel arrangements, please contact info(at)ifaj2011.com.

How to attract more journalists?

Foto: Linda Wikström

Lena Johansson

A story about how Sweden got a new sheep breed by embryo transfer won the writing contest of the Swedish ag journalists Guild. A horse having its teeth done was the motive of the winner in the photo contest.

Linda Grimstedt and Ann Lindén are the authors of this years winning story about how the Dorper sheep came to Sweden by embryo transfer. They won in a close contest with a story about production of GM soy in Brazil.

A picture captured by Linda Wikström was named the winner by the jury, for its details, which draws in the viewer like they are very close to the scene. Second in the photo contest came a picture of cows on their way from pasture.

This was the tenth time the contests were held. The first year, they attracted more than 100 entries. In more recent years it was only just above 20. The challenge for the organizers now is to find out how to attract more writers and photographers next year. Do they need to raise the award money, or are the journalists just fed up with competitions?

Stock Journal editor wins national leadership award

Submitted by Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists

Stock Journal
editor Deanna Lush is heading to Canada in September after winning a prestigious national award for young rural journalists.

Deanna has won the 2011 Alltech Young Leaders in Rural Journalism Award, organised annually by the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists (ACAJ) and sponsored by global animal nutrition company, Alltech.

As the recipient she will attend the 2011 congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) in Canada from September 14 to 18, with leading rural journalists and communicators from more than 30 countries.

In a major new initiative coordinated by the IFAJ and sponsored by Alltech, she will also participate in a special two-day ‘boot camp’ before the main congress. The tailor-made professional development program will also involve 10 other young leaders selected from around the world, with both practical and formal training from highly regarded practitioners and a personal mentor.

“The judges were very impressed by Deanna’s obvious leadership potential and already active participation in activities that support and encourage people who are interested in a career in rural journalism and agriculture,” said ACAJ president Liz Harfull.

“As editor of the State’s rural weekly newspaper she also directly manages a staff of 10 and a host of contributors to capture the latest agricultural news, analysis and opinions for the State’s agricultural sector.

“The trip to Canada will provide her with a rare opportunity to build lasting networks with her peers and to develop a broader understanding of the issues facing farmers around the world, particularly in Canada which shares many common experiences and issues with Australia.”

Deanna became editor of the Stock Journal in February, 2010, at the age of 28, returning to the rural weekly where she worked as a journalist and chief of staff before spending three years as media adviser to the State Minister for the River Murray and Water Security. She began her career in journalism at the Murray Valley Standard in Murray Bridge.

Deanna sits on the committee of the State’s rural press club, Rural Media SA, where she coordinates the annual Rural Photographer of the Year award. She has also won several other awards in the past for her career achievements, including being named South Australia’s Rural Journalist of the Year in 2005.

Alltech Australia General Manager Adam Naylor said Alltech was delighted to be able to provide Deanna with an opportunity to meet with some of the world’s leading rural editors and journalists who would inspire her in her future career.

“Professional development, education and access to accurate and timely information are all vital to ensuring the sustainability and success of rural industries,” he said.

“We are very pleased to sponsor this award, which we hope encourages young journalists to consider a long-term career in the rural sector and to take a leadership role in its future.”

IFAJ News July 2011

In search of IFAJ’s future

Mike Wilson
IFAJ President

I’ve gotten a sneak peek at a new survey IFAJ has conducted among our IFAJ executive committee. The survey is taking a broad, comprehensive look at the structure of our organization and trying to determine if we can become more global.

While the survey is not quite finished, I can tell you that the ad-hoc committee in charge, led by senior vice president Markus Rediger, is hoping to reveal the full results of the survey at our 2011 Congress, scheduled for September 14-18 in Canada. At that time those results will be shared worldwide. The committee then plans to make recommendations to the full executive committee at our business meeting in GreenWeek, 2012.

While I don’t know for sure what the survey will show, I’m fairly confident there’s a great interest among our membership in making our organization more global. As communicators, we have a unique role in helping the world understand agriculture. Many of us wear several hats – explaining farming to a consumer audience as well as passing expertise on to farmers. That is true in your country as well as countless others that, right now, aren’t involved in IFAJ.

Over these past few years I believe our role as communicators has taken on a new sense of urgency. The world’s population will reach 9 billion by 2050, and it will take all of us involved in the food and agriculture business to work together to ensure everyone has safe, affordable food. We know this is already a daunting task: even now, 1 billion people go to bed hungry every night. The coming growth in population, coupled with ever increasing demands on our planet’s resources, will mean tremendous challenges in boosting production while doing so in sustainable ways.

We will play a role in the future of food production. The challenge I describe above just makes our jobs a little more rewarding.

IFAJ can play an important role here. We can link with professionals in regions where IFAJ is not yet known. We can help those communicators develop new skills while they teach us more about agricultural challenges in developing regions.

I look forward to learning, with you, what the future of IFAJ will bring. These are exciting times to be an agricultural journalist!

Swiss Ag-Journalists in Brussels

Adrian Krebs

A delegation of 12 Swiss ag-journalists and communicators recently visited Brussels. The idea was born at this year’s Green Week meeting in January, when IFAJ executives organized a small meeting with EU-Commissioner Ciolos' spokesman Roger Waite. Switzerland is still not a member of the EU, but is surrounded by member countries. Nevertheless, Roger was very keen to help us have a taste of Brussels.

We began our two-day visit at the Swiss Mission of the EU, where the Ambassador explained to us that Brussels is no longer very amused about the Swiss tendency of picking at the bilateral relationship with the EU. Instead of joining, the Swiss have decided to accept a series of bilateral treaties with Brussels that include, among other things, the free exchange of workers.

On day two, Roger and some specialists of the Ag-Directorate presented us the pillars of the CAP. It made us proud to have confirmed what we already knew: the EU takes the Swiss way (cross-compliance, greening of direct payments, abolition of milk quota), only a few years later. It was really interesting to hear, that, although the EU and the number of farmers is still growing, the amount of money at hand for subsidies and rural development is not. This means that the average farm will receive less in the coming decades. Not a motivating perspective for Swiss farmers.

How IFAJ is supporting Japan

James Campbell
Northern Ireland
IFAJ Treasurer

Several guilds and organizations have collected donations for the catastrophe in Japan.

Please remember to have your guilds forward their donations to IFAJ before the end of July for onward transmission as part of a contribution from IFAJ for the financial aid of farmers and their families affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Donations will go to the special account of farming group JA, the most generous supporter for the IFAJ Congress in Japan, to donate to farmers in trouble. IFAJ has already collected 9,400 euros. IFAJ will contribute a nice round figure after the closing date.

It is suggested that your guild make the bank transfer early in August. Any guilds wanting additional donations to be handled by IFAJ should forward their contributions before the  end of July 2011. Donations should be made through electronic transfers of funds to the bank account of IFAJ, from which the total sum will be transferred to Japan.

For more information, contact James Campbell, IFAJ Treasurer at farmersjournal(at)btinternet.com.

Jazzed about the Agricultural Media Summit

Steve Werblow

The 2011 Agricultural Media Summit (AMS) – the combined annual meetings of the American Agricultural Editors Association, the Livestock Publications Council and the American Business Media Agri-Council – is scheduled for 24-27 July in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.

A pre-conference tour of several port facilities in the lower Mississippi River will introduce journalists to the challenges and opportunities facing the United States’ largest grain export system and vital import route for fuel, fertilizers, crop protection chemicals and other key commodities.

The program of workshops following the tour is filled with professional development opportunities for writers, photographers, designers, public relations professionals and publishers.  Among the highlights:

Four seminars by renowned writing/editing guru Ann Wylie will focus on making copy more interesting, engaging and enticing to readers. Photographer Peter Krogh will provide a detailed look at the fast-evolving world of digital asset management using Adobe Lightroom, as well as bringing attendees on a journey through his own photographic work. Social media specialists John and Christine Taylor will detail ways to use online data gathering and Twitter more effectively and strategically. Marketing guru Shelly Kramer – featured in Forbes magazine as one of the 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter – will deliver a workshop on creating e-newsletters and other online communications that deliver results. Former AAEA president Karen Simon and Angela Bendorf Jamison will share the suite of AAEA ethics case studies, continuing an ongoing dialogue on ethical principles and practices in our business. Cornell University professor emeritus Bob Milligan will deliver a double-barreled message – a workshop on team building at work and another on building customer relationships during challenging times. New Orleans Times-Picayune staff photographer Ted Jackson will share his insight on shooting video – a skill many still photographers are being called upon to polish. Adobe trainer Russell Viers will reveal template tricks for faster ad and editorial page production, and deliver another workshop on processing photos faster in Photoshop, while Claudia McCue, another Adobe trainer and a long-time AMS presenter, will share the secrets of CS5.

Tuesday’s luncheon speaker will provide his unforgettable perspective on Hurricane Katrina.  New Orleans Times-Picayune staff photographer Ted Jackson spent days in a canoe photographing the devastation wrought by the storm and confronting the dilemma faced by journalists in crises everywhere – “what will do the most good: capturing the photo forever or helping this person right now?”

To help editors bring home stories or build background on issues they are likely to cover in the future, AMS also features “Newsmaker” panels.  This year’s panels focus on issues swirling in the Gulf of Mexico, just a few miles from the conference hotel.

Government officials and a leading Iowa conservation farmer will discuss hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico, a challenge that starts, in part, in the American Midwest.  A second panel will gather leaders in the commodity transport business for a look at the present and future of moving our nation’s ag commodities through the gateway to the Gulf.

The combination of professional development sessions, great networking opportunities, the bustling InfoExpo trade show and an annual chance to connect with friends throughout the ag communications industry will draw more than 500 participants to New Orleans this month for the Agricultural Media Summit. We’ll report next month on key lessons from the Summit, as well as winners of AAEA’s prestigious writing, photography and marketing communications awards.

Make the Media Your Messenger

Rodney Magowan
United Kingdom

Taking a fascinating trip to Serbia with the IFAJ in May had unexpected consequences for Dutch agricultural journalist Marjolein van Woerkom - she ended up in the world's oldest licensed distillery at Bushmills in Northern Ireland. During the Serbian tour, her first foreign assignment, Marjolein heard about farmer-funded research being carried out in Northern Ireland from fellow delegate and IFAJ treasurer James Campbell.

Taking up the kind offer of hospitality from James and his wife Alison, the young Dutch freelancer spent three days visiting farms, a sheep show and a Dutch researcher working in this part of the UK, plus of course taking time to sample Bushmills whiskey. As a drinker of whiskey and an owner of a 1000cc motorbike Marjolein felt right at home in a province that produces famous whiskey and equally famous road bike racers such as the late Joey Dunlop.

European Union Commission Organizing Interactive Website

Stephen Cadogan
IFAJ Communications Chair

Joe Watson, IFAJ delegate of the United Kingdom, recently represented British agricultural journalists at a meeting convened in Brussels by the European Commission, where details were released of a new website for European agricultural journalists.

It will go live during the summer, Joe reported.

“The interactive website will act as a one-stop shop for all news and information on agricultural matters,” said Joe. “It will also be used by the commission to interact with journalists by asking their views on particular subjects and encouraging them to post stories, their own views and questions.”

“That in itself should prove a boon as it will mean we no longer will have to search various commission websites for information,” reported Joe. “The site will also provide statistics on agriculture in every EU country and information on the types of crops and livestock produced, the scale of production, the key contacts within government agriculture ministries, commission contacts and details of the main agricultural journalists.”

It will link into the commission's existing Facebook and Twitter sites and be hosted outside the Europa platform to allow greater freedom and better search features. It is likely that running the site will, in time, be handed over to European Guilds.

“The commission also hopes it will develop improved links with journalists working in European regions and respond to their particular needs, through special or technical briefings involving senior officials,” adds Joe. “That could mean Guilds in the various countries being asked to identify issues their members want to discuss, so that the commission can send an official to a group talk or briefing.”

It is also anticipated that the website will help in selecting journalists to participate in commission-organized trips to see the CAP in action across Europe.

“I was impressed with the commission's willingness to engage with journalists working in the regions, a sign of its concern at the diminishing number of Brussels-based correspondents reporting on agricultural matters,” said Joe. “The new website looks a fantastic tool that will help us all convey news on the CAP to our readers and listeners. I would encourage everyone with an interest in European affairs to sign up to the website when it is launched.”

The meeting also heard tentative plans for a new network of journalists working across Europe. A task force has been set up to take the idea forward with a view to launching the initiative in December this year.

People in the News

Rodney Magowan, United Kingdom
Stephen Cadogan, Ireland

Joanne Pugh, popular livestock editor of the Preston, Lancashire based Farmers Guardian, is moving to become deputy CEO of the National Beef Association.

Cliff Donaldson, former chairman Northern Ireland Guild of Agricultural Journalists and erstwhile chief reporter at FarmWeek , in his new role as freelance photographer came third in the hotly contested  news section of the NI Press Photographer of the Year competition.

Earlier this year United Kingdom IFAJ executive committee member Joe Watson was hospitalized after a car accident. Despite his injuries, Joe is in good spirits, and emailed from his hospital bed, “Life full of challenges. Lying flat in bed and on oxygen 24/7 since collapse. Time will be the healer.”

The farming editor of the Press & Journal in Scotland, Joe was on his way to report on an agricultural show when the accident occurred.

Best wishes to you Joe as you recover.

About IFAJ News

Send news or article ideas to IFAJ News editor Karlie Elliott Bowman at k.elliott.bowman@gmail.com. September issue deadline is Aug. 10, 2011. Never let language be a hurdle for sending ideas or news items. Feel free to respond in your native language and we will work together to share your news items. Also, be sure to share IFAJ News with your colleagues. Encourage them to visit www.ifaj.org/news/newsletter-subscription.html to subscribe. IFAJ News is a publication of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists. IFAJ gives agricultural journalists and communicators a platform for professional development and international networking. To learn more about IFAJ visit our website at www.ifaj.org. If you have questions about IFAJ, please do not hesitate to contact our executive secretary Connie Siemes, at P.O. Box 205, 6920 AE Duiven, The Netherlands, Ph 0031 573 451975, e-mail: secretary@ifaj.org. You can also follow IFAJ on Twitter @IFAJ, and you can find us on Facebook.