"Early Bird" registration now open for the 2011 IFAJ Congress

Discounted registrations opened January 15 for the IFAJ Congress and for study tours in Canada next September. These special rates are available for delegates who register for the Congress by April 15. IFAJ members look forward to taking advantage of this unique opportunity to experience New World Agriculture in Canada.

Notice the three options available:

  1. Pre Congress Tours:
    British Columbia, province of the Pacific - September 9-11
    Alberta, part of Canada's west - September 8-11
  2. Congress Program in Guelph and Niagara Falls, Canada - September 14-18
  3. Post Congress Tours
    The Best of Atlantic Canada - September 18-22
    Guelph, Ontario research tour - September 18-21

More on http://www.ifaj2011.com

Leaders elected for the South African association

Magda du Toit was re-elected chairperson of the executive committee of Agricultural Writers SA during a recent annual general meeting. Also re-elected were Adéle Engelbrecht as deputy chairperson, Charl van Rooyen as secretary and Hanlie du Plessis as treasurer. A news report in Agripen emphasized that the association is committed to communicating positive achievements of achievers of agriculture to enhance the image of agriculture and all its role-players. You can read the news item here.

Maybe the most unusual meeting venue of 2010?

Who can top the "Conquest of Mythodea" as a gathering occasion for agricultural journalists?

Congratulations to members of the Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt National Group of the German Association of Agricultural Journalists (Verband Deutscher Agrarjournalisten e.V.). 
They took part in what may be the largest living adventure - a live action role-playing (LARP) experience during August that involved more than 7,000 participants from Europe and beyond. They came to the manor Brokeloh, north of Hanover, Germany. During the event a normally quiet area became Mythodea, a mysterious and exciting world of fantasy in which all took part.

We wonder how the VDAJ National Group emerged from this unusual experience.  Did it stir their imaginations and creativity?  Maybe they can tell us during the 2011 Congress in Canada.  Until then, we can enjoy the photo of them at Mythodea in a brief report on the VDAJ website.

And maybe the most unusual ag photo experience of the year?

You probably have seen the remarkable photo, "Hot November," that was honored as winner of the People Category of the 2010 IFAJ Photo Contest. What you may not know is the story of how photographer Nigel Hallett of Victoria, Australia, got that photo. Thanks to the Rural Press Club of Victoria for reporting this experience. It seems that Nigel got lost due to some bad directions while on an assignment. "I turned through the wrong gate and saw a farmer working in the heat, so went ahead and took the picture of him", Nigel explained. Later he learned that he had photographed the wrong farmer. But he had a special photo.

British Guild trains prospective journalists

A new-entrants training program of the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists recently provided unique insight and experience for eight young prospective agricultural and horticultural journalists. According to a Guild news report, they enjoyed lectures and practical journalistic exercises at the Langar offices of John Deere, which supports this program. Then they headed to different locations for several days of experience with agricultural and horticultural periodicals, as well as other organizations.
Among the participants, Janie Caldbeck received the 18th John Deere Training Award for best trainee report from the course. Her article featured the new generation of green manure crops being developed for farmers. More

Issue January 2011

Happy New Year! Welcome to the January edition of the IFAJ News.

It is a pleasure to share news with you in this first issue for the 2011 year. It is incredible to think that 2011 is upon us and we soon will gather in Canada for the IFAJ Congress!
In this issue you will find timely news from President Mike Wilson and 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 February 10.

Karlie Elliott Bowman, Editor, kelliott3(at)gmail.com

IFAJ's 2011 Agenda: It's packed

President's Column
By Mike Wilson

I'm writing to you just prior to IFAJ's business meeting in Berlin during GreenWeek, one of Europe's largest food and agricultural shows. 
Our executive committee will be taking a hard look at the activities IFAJ has in store for 2011, and there's a lot to do for an international, voluntary organization.

Three new programs. Three new programs will launch this year.  IFAJ Master Class will bring 10 agricultural journalists from developing countries into a special workshop on global agriculture and communications just prior to the 2011 IFAJ Congress, set for September in Canada.  Pioneer International, one of the world's largest seed companies, is sponsoring this program, with logistical assistance from our friends at AgriTerra, a non-governmental agency focused on rural poverty in developing nations.
At the same time, we're ramping up a revitalized program for young journalists.  The IFAJ-Alltech Boot Camp, sponsored by Alltech, will bring 10 young agricultural journalists to Canada for a workshop on professional development, communications and professional mentoring.  These young journalists are the future of our profession, so IFAJ is glad to play a role in encouraging their career paths.
We are also proposing to increase the prize money for our elite professional development contests - the Star Prize awards for print journalism, broadcast journalism and photography.  These programs are sponsored by John Deere, DeLaval and IFAJ.

New theme contest.  I'm also excited to tell you about a new contest, open to every IFAJ member.  The IFAJ Yara Award for Reporting on World Sustainable Agriculture will offer a chance to recognize the best journalism effort on a singular theme.  The contest is open to all members and offers 3,000 euros for first place, 1,500 euro for second place and 750 euro for third place.
The contest, sponsored by international Ag resources firm Yara, is a reflection of the growing concern over world hunger and sustainable agriculture.
Entries for this first year of the contest will focus on strategic ways farmers can feed a still growing world population that will reach 9 billion by year 2050. 
Experts say we must double agricultural production during the next 40 years in order to avoid hunger and in order also to produce agricultural products for energy purposes.  At the same time agricultural land will only increase slightly, and water may be an even more limited resource.
I've been a steadfast believer that the world's agricultural communicators will play an important role in boosting food production in the next 40 years.  We are a critical link in educating farmers as well as consumers.  This contest will encourage more thought-provoking articles, radio and TV programs and internet entries on the topic.
Entries must have been published or broadcast between January 2010 and June 2011.  You will see more information about this contest, along with an entry form, at our website, www.IFAJ.org.

Other planning.
In Berlin, the IFAJ will also be discussing how it may expand to bring more communicators into our membership from developing countries.  This is an exciting idea, but we have to move cautiously.  It is great to think about broadening IFAJ to impact more professionals, as long as we have a smart plan that includes financial backing and human resources.
Whatever far corner of the world you work in, you play an important role in the future health of this planet!

As always, write to me at mwilson(at)farmprogress.com

Forum helps young Australian rural journalists build their skills

Young rural and regional journalists in southeastern Australia get useful tips, insights and networking through a professional development forum. It is organized and hosted by the Rural Press Club of Victoria. Emily Bogue, Club treasurer and secretary of the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists, describes the Regional Journalists Forum in a new feature posted on the IFAJ website. She explains that the Forum has been popular since this series began in 2007.
You can learn about several features that make it popular, including the timing, the topics addressed and the opportunities to confer with seasoned reporters.  Also, get advice about how to plan, organize and host this kind of professional development activity. You can read it here.

Perspectives from an Alltech Young Leader

By Lilian Schaer, Canada

The New Year is a good time to reflect – on the year just passed and on the one that lies ahead. I have some fond memories of 2010, especially those stemming from the IFAJ congress in Belgium as I was fortunate enough to be selected as an Alltech Young Leader Award recipient – and doubly fortunate to have made it to Belgium before a certain volcano brought air travel in Europe to a screeching halt.
Becoming involved in the IFAJ has been a terrific experience for me, one that has evolved almost exclusively from attending the annual congresses. I’ve had the chance to meet and build relationships with fellow journalists from around the globe, which is both as much a valuable career asset as it is just plain fun staying in touch with new friends in the lull between congresses!
As agriculture journalists, we’re all familiar with food and farming in our own countries, but learning about what’s happening in another part of the world helps broaden our understanding of the issues facing the sector. And it sure puts a different perspective on world events when you can send off an email to someone who is living a news story that we’re only reading about or following on television back home.
While at the congress in Ostende, I was struck by the similarities between Belgium and Canada. Both countries have two major language groups who know they should get along for the greater good of the nation, but often struggle with making that a working reality. They also often both find themselves in the shadow of much larger, stronger neighbours and who must work hard to carve out their own niches in the global agricultural landscape while keeping their farmers viable in face of global competition.
But the much greater takeaway I received from my visit to Belgium is the new meaning that Remembrance Day – known as Veteran’s Day in some countries – has for me. I’ve visited Vimy Ridge and a Canadian World War II cemetery in the Netherlands in the past, but this was the first time I’ve ever experienced the iconic Flanders Fields, immortalized by Canadian doctor John McCrae in his epic poem of the same name.
The haunting Last Post ceremony in Ypres, the sea of meticulously kept Commonwealth war graves that mark the final resting place of so many young Canadians and the bombs that continue to turn up to this day as farmers plow their fields are indelibly marked in my memory – and were vividly with me as I observed Remembrance Day this past November 11th. There is perhaps no greater gift we can give the fallen than to remember their sacrifice.
As I look ahead to 2011, it too will be a big year as Canada prepares to host IFAJ members at its first congress in more than 40 years. As co-chair of the 2011 congress, I will be more than a mere participant this year – and I look forward to being part of the team that will welcome all delegates, and in particular the next group of Alltech Young Leaders, to Canada this fall.

Thank you, Alltech and IFAJ, for supporting the Young Leader Program. I’m honoured to have been a part of it.