Welcome to the April edition of the IFAJ News

In this issue you will find updates on what IFAJ is working on to provide ongoing improvements for members, Congress updates, as well as recent news and updates from member guilds and members around the world.

Thank you to everyone who sent in news items and I encourage you to please doing so. As we prepare for next month’s newsletter, we would like to know what issues are important to you, as agricultural journalists, in your countries and why? Send these thoughts and news to me at any time, but for the next issue please send by May 10. Also, please never let language be a hurdle for sending in ideas or news items. Feel free to respond in your native language and we will work together to learn more and share your news items.


Thanks for your support and for reading the IFAJ News.
Karlie Elliott Bowman
Editor, k.elliott.bowman@gmail.com

Judges selected for IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism awards

Karen Simon of the USA and Klaus Strotmann of Germany have been named judges for this year’s IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism awards.

The awards, now in their fifth year, recognize leadership potential in young IFAJ members. Through sponsorship from Alltech, IFAJ is able to give 10 awards valued at 1,000 Euros each, to support the winners’ participation at an IFAJ congress.

The young leaders’ award also helps IFAJ grow, and to contribute positively to the global advancement of agricultural journalism and communications.

“IFAJ is fortunate these two enthusiastic and talented individuals accepted our invitation to judge this year’s competition,” said Owen Roberts, IFAJ secretary general and awards coordinator. “Their professional backgrounds and experiences will help ensure this remains a topnotch competition.”

Karen Simon is director of communications for the Iowa Soybean Association. She joined the association five years ago after working as a journalist for more than 20 years. In a related role, she currently serves as past-president of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association, an organization that serves agricultural media, communicators and industry partners from across the United States and chairs that organization’s ethics committee. She has earned bachelor and master’s degrees from the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, MN. Born and raised in Minnesota, some of her earliest and most pleasant memories are of her experiences while visiting her grandparents’ farms.

Klaus Strotmann is the editor in charge for crop production at dlz agrarmagazin. This monthly business magazine is circulated throughout German-speaking Europe with 100,000 readers. He is a past winner of the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders Award (2009), and participated at the IFAJ congress in Ft. Worth, Texas. Klaus was born in Hannover, and spent holidays on a grassland farm in southern Germany, experiencing how a small manually run dairy farm developed into a modern state-of-the-art mechanized company. In 2006 he started a two-year traineeship at the dlv Deutscher Landwirtschaftsverlag publishing house. The company publishes over 20 agricultural magazines. Simultaneously, he started volunteering with the Bavarian branch of the German guild for agricultural journalists VDAJ. Today, he is vice-chairman of the Bavarian VDAJ.

The Award entries deadline was Friday, April 15, 2011.

See http://www.ifaj.org/contests-and-awards/young-leaders-award.html for more details.

IFAJ sponsor in the news

IFAJ sponsor, Rabobank, is partnering with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to focus on international food and agriculture chains. The goal of this new partnership is to make sustainable chains by conducting joint projects. Rabobank is an internationally leading food & agribank, and will contribute financial and other knowledge of these sectors. The WWF will provide its expertise relating to ecosystems and their recovery.

As the world’s population is expected to reach nine billion by 2050, the planet needs to be better prepared, as it is already being exploited beyond its limits. If nothing changes, then by 2050, nearly three planets will be needed to meet consumption needs. Based on their shared sense of urgency, Rabobank and the WWF are committed to developing solutions for feeding a growing world population, protecting natural resources and contributing to responsible working conditions within the earth’s ecological limits.

The partnership will initially concentrate specifically on international food and agri-related companies. Treating natural raw materials and resources carefully and responsibly is vital within the food and agricultural chains. The WWF and Rabobank will set up projects that will demonstrate that sustainable enterprise genuinely produces (economic) added value for both the environment and local populations and companies and financiers active within food and agricultural chains in sectors such as sugarcane, cacao and fishery.

Inaugural Irish agri-journalism bursary

Joe Rea Bursary Irish Farm Centre

A NEW €4,000 bursary for agricultural journalists in Ireland has been won by Darragh McCullough, presenter of the Ear to the Ground TV series and deputy editor of the Farming Independent.

He wins the Joe Rea Bursary, which commemorates one of Ireland’s best known farmers’ leaders, who had a long connection with agri-journalism through the pages of the Irish Farmers Journal, as well as making a huge contribution to Irish agriculture over 50 years.

The family of the late Joe Rea, and the Farm Apprenticeship Board (which Joe chaired) established a fund to award bursaries in his honour, supported by the Irish Guild of Agricultural Journalists.

Darragh used the bursary fund to support a visit to New Zealand, where he recorded for the autumn series of Ear to the Ground, and reported for the Farming Independent.

There is an ongoing major exchange of agricultural communication between New Zealand and Ireland, mainly due to similarities in their dairy industries.

Follow IFAJ bloggers

We’re fortunate as an organization to have an active group of journalists continually practicing and working to communicate agricultural issues.

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out the great blogs maintained by your fellow IFAJ members at http://www.ifaj.org/blogs/member-blogs.html.

IFAJ member Owen Roberts of Canda says he writes his Urban Cowboy blog, “To stimulate comments and dialogue on current agricultural communications issues.”
there are 10 members blogs at the moment, full of interesting and relevant content, and great images from agricultural journalists. The accompanying image is from Adrian Krebs of Switzerland, his blog is titled, Adi’s Agro Blog.

IFAJ encourages all members with blogs to send them to Connie Siemes at globaloffice(at)ifaj.org. No matter what language blogs are written in, they are more than welcome on the IFAJ blog page. So be sure to submit your site today, so your fellow IFAJ members can regularly follow your blog.

IFAJ News April 2011

Worst is not over

Masaru Yamada
Japan Agricultural Journalists’ Association

Is the worst over?
Everybody asks me. I always reply – “To me, it was apparently over, but one thing I can tell you it is totally depending on where you live.”

After being hit on March 11 2011 by one of the largest earthquakes in history, we Japanese are now – in a way – going back to ‘business as usual’.

In the world famous Akihabara electric town in Tokyo, you don’t see many differences between now and two months ago. You see many pedestrians on the streets on holidays looking for great discounts on PCs or games machines.

Just like I did before, I commute by train to my office in Akihabara every day from my house, located 30 km east from Tokyo. I have lunch at the cafeteria of the Japan Agricultural News which I am working for. We buy rice, milk, vegetables, and fruits at supermarkets, and gasoline at gas stations without any problems. The prices are the same as they were before the disaster.

Little has changed as long as you are living outside the hard hit zone in Tohoku district.

The story is very different in the hard hit area. Many people are still looking for bodies of their relatives, and waiting for vacancies in temporary houses.

When it comes to agriculture, more than 20,000 ha of farmland was washed out by the large tsunamis (some of them were more than 30 m high). Farmers are struggling to remove debris and salt from their cultivated land. But in some areas, it is often in vain. You can imagine that many are affected when you realize that an average Japanese farmer has only 1.6 ha of farmland.

Although the government has pledged that it is going to support farmers heavily, by including subsidies and loans in the future, farmers are losing money and facing challenges. These include problems coming from radioactive contamination caused by the explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The government of Japan has issued both legal and voluntary orders to farmers not to ship their products, mainly vegetables, because of high levels of radioactivity in the crops.

Farmers in the area are following the rule. If the government says no, they simply dump the crop. They will be reimbursed for the damage by the TEPCO, an electric company which owns the nuclear facility. If the government says it is OK for consumption, they sell the crop.

Since we have fairly strict food safety law, scientists believe food consumption in Japan is safe as long as the system works. However, things are really complicated when it comes to radiation. Prime Minister Kan Naoto ate cucumbers in front of TV cameras at his office to show that the food is safe, but some consumers don’t believe it. The prevailing view is that crops coming from Fukushima and nearby prefectures are not safe to eat. If this keeps going, farmers in the area will have to suffer from both the disaster and the harmful rumors.

The real challenge our farmers face is how to convince our consumers that local food is safe. It may take a long time to do so, but there is no other way for the Japanese farmers to survive. 

IFAJ Member guilds support Japanese colleagues

IFAJ member guilds across the globe are working to support their colleagues in Japan. With support coming in a great variety of ways, we reached out to member guilds to ask how they are working to aid relief efforts.

The Japan Agricultural Journalists’ Association issued a statement for colleagues of IFAJ on March 17th, 2011 after receiving lots of support offers from member organizations of IFAJ as below. Thankfully, as of April 23, no fatal or serious injuries of members of JAJA had been reported. The organization is arranging special workshops on the disaster from the end of April to study what kind of measures should be taken to revive the area.

Upon inquiring to member guilds of their efforts, here is what IFAJ colleagues are doing to support those in Japan.

Hans Siemes, of the Netherlands, said their organization asked its 260 members to transfer money to a special bank account. The organization's goal is to raise at least 2,500 euro. This is the first time the Netherlands  has taken on such an effort, but the catastrophe is so big and the connection strong with Japan (several of our members visited during the IFAJ congress) that  they made an exception.

The VAÖ (Ausrian Guild), according to Ulrike Raser, has donated a considerable amount of money to the auxiliary account from IFAJ. The organization also provided account numbers  to members if they would like to individually donate.

Additionally, the former EU Agriculture Comissioner Franz Fischler, who visited the Japan congress in 2007 with the Austrian Guild, wrote to encourage the disaster-stricken farmers.

According to Dr. Katharina Seuser, the German guild also transferred a monetary donation to the account of IFAJ. Colleagues from Northern Germany also transferred money directly to IFAJ. The German guild also transferred a monetary donation to the account of IFAJ. Colleagues from Northern Germany also transferred money directly to IFAJ.

The U.S. guild is doing a collaborative effort among agriculture communications organizations. So far, four or five groups have contributed and the groups are now seeking individual donations. The guild is also enabling individuals to make online donations.

The British Guild held a collection at its annual meeting. An appeal is ongoing and it is hoped that more British members support it, according to Joe Watson.

Finnish agricultural journalists are also very concerned about the terrible events that occurred in Japan and especially Sendai, where they recall the great hospitality they received there four years ago.  According to Riitta Mustonen, Finnish IFAJ Executive member, their guild also donated money to the Japanese guild.

If you have ideas or information on how your guild can support IFAJ colleagues in Japan, please submit this information by May 10, as we will continually provide updates on these continuing developments impacting our Japanese colleagues.

Catching up with IFAJ activities

IFAJ always working to provide more for members

IFAJ is always working hard to meet the goal of providing more opportunities for members. Be sure to check out the latest website improvements, which includes a Twitter feed and regularly updated information. Also, be sure to utilize all of the great resources available on the IFAJ website, including the professional development features and resources. A special thank you to David Joller for his work on the website.

Join IFAJ Network for exclusive benefits
Stephen Cadogan,
IFAJ Communications Chair, Ireland

If you are not already an IFAJ  newsletter subscriber, take the opportunity now to join our newly set up IFAJ Network through our website.
Sign up  and you will receive our monthly newsletter, and will not miss any of our important information bulletins on IFAJ annual awards and congresses, other professional development services, and other news of interest  to agricultural communicators around the world.

The value of having this kind of  network through which we can send an alert out to as many members as possible was brought home to us  by the earthquake and tsunami tragedy in Japan, and the difficulty members had in getting news of their colleagues in the  Japan Agricultural Journalists’ Association.

We also urge unattached freelancers  to join the IFAJ Network. You will be included in our new directory of freelancers, where you can add all kinds of files to your information which will be of interest to editors seeking freelance services.

Information you provide when registering for the IFAJ Network will not be shared with anyone else.

IFAJ Network: www.ifaj.org/registration.html

IFAJ Congress 2011 approaching quickly

With registration for the 2011 Congress in Canada open and the conference just over 100 days away, it is time to start planning for your trip, if you’re not already. Remember, the last day to register is June 15.

Congress attendees have the opportunity to choose from four pre and post congress options. Congress co-organizers, Owen Roberts and Lilian Schaer and the whole IFAJ 2011 organizing team, have done an excellent job to provide options for touring Canada. As you prepare for the Congress be sure to thank all the organizers, as the entire group is volunteer run from representing all parts of Canada.

As the event approaches and the early registration now passed, registrants from more than 30 countries are currently set to participate, which includes members of the Master Class, which includes journalists from outside IFAJ member guilds.

Currently, there are 231 delegates registered for the bootcamp, which is 77% of total capacity. The event has capacity for 300 participants. Currently registered delegates represent 32 countries.

Remember, registration is set to close June 15, unless 300 delegates register before the deadline.

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 your planning, here are a few helpful links:

Congress website-http://www.ifaj2011.com/

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

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