IFAJ Master Class

IFAJ and DuPont, through its Pioneer Hi-Bred business, collaborated to provide training and networking opportunities for agricultural journalists from developing countries for the second annual IFAJ Master Class at this year’s Congress.

This year’s Master Class was two-fold, providing a dynamic and complete professional development experience for journalists from developing countries and gave journalists from the developed world access to contacts in countries that are intricately involved in feeding an increasingly hungry world. The Master Class creates awareness of the role and position of farmers and their organizations worldwide.

Participants included:
Tabara Yansane, Guinea

Siyu Zhou, China                                          

Sumithra Nakkala, India                           

Rodrigo Miro, Argentina                                    

Samara Braghini, Brazil                              

Bernardo Ramos, Uruguay

Beatriz Salazar, Peru

Sos Avetisyan, Armenia

Jules Ravelomanana, Madagascar (sponsored by Dutch guild)

Jean Baptiste Lubamba, DR Congo (sponsored by the Belgian guild)

Inoussa Maiga, Burkina FasoJean Baptiste Musabyimana, DR CongoHonore Kabongo, DR CongoDuring the two-day Master Class summit, there were workshops given by IFAJ member journalists, making it a true peer-to-peer teaching and learning experience. Subject included journalistic best practices, freedom of press, interviewing skills, new media and the role of farmers fighting poverty.José van Gelder of Agriterra, an agricultural development agency based in the Netherlands, is an IFAJ member and was in charge of organizing the event.


Award winners named in Star Prize for photo excellence

Award winners have been named in this year’s IFAJ Star Prize for photo excellence, sponsored by DeLaval. This year’s competition drew 99 entries from across the IFAJ membership.

The overall winner is Alex de Haan of The Netherlands, also the competition’s production category winner, for his photo ”Man with sheep.”

The category winners are:


Winner: Locust plague (Mark Griffin, Australia)

Distinguished recognition: Drainage and poetry (John Eveson, UK)


Winner: Cows in the mist (Alex de Haan, Netherlands)

Distinguished recognition: Develop or not (Linda Wikström, Sweden)

Distinguished recognition: Moving over (Twan Wiermans, Netherlands)


Winner: Man with sheep (Alex de Haan, Netherlands)

Distinguished recognition: Oasis makes super farm possible (Liza Bohlmann, South Africa) 

The awards were given at the 2011 International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) Congress awards banquet in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.

Judges for this year’s competition were Allison Finnamore of Canada, Hugo Lochner of South Africa and Christine McClintic of the USA. The competition coordinator was IFAJ professional development committee chair Charl van Rooyen of South Africa.

Entries are posted on the IFAJ website, www.ifaj.org/contests-and-awards/photo-contest/2011-results.html, as is further information about the IFAJ Star Prize for photo excellence.

IFAJ-donation helps tsumnami victims in Japan

IFAJ members have donated 13,509 euro to help the relief efforts in Japan following the devasting earthquake and tsunami.

The disaster hit hard in and around the city of Sendai, where the 2007 congress of IFAJ was hosted.

The Japanese delegation at the IFAJ 2011 congress in Canada expressed deep appreciation of the funds donated by colleagues in IFAJ.

Ireland’s Guild of Agricultural Journalists celebrates 50 years

Stephen Cadogan

It’s the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland, and the organization’s Dillon Memorial Lecture and Dinner in Dublin on Friday, November 4 will be a centerpiece of the anniversary celebrations.

Guild Chairman Damien O’Reilly has announced that renowned Irish broadcaster and historian Dr. John Bowman is the guest lecturer.

The Guild is grateful to Kerry Group for their generous sponsorship of this event, which is the most prestigious in the Guild’s annual calendar.

IFAJ president Mike Wilson will be an honored guest.

A brochure to mark the 50th anniversary is being prepared by former IFAJ president David Markey, Michael Miley and Colm Cronin.

About IFAJ News

A special thank you to our Canadian colleagues for organizing a great conference, for all your work and time. The event provided excellent opportunities for networking, story gathering and educational experiences. And, we had a lot of fun together. Looking forward to seeing you all in Sweden.

For more Congress details, photos and interviews visit agwired.com/category/ifaj/.

Many thanks to Chuck Zimmerman of ZimmComm for the great coverage and their willingness to provide photos.

Do you have stories from Congress to share in the IFAJ News? Send news or article ideas to IFAJ News editor Karlie Elliott Bowman at k.elliott.bowman@gmail.com. The November issue deadline is October 15, 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.

IFAJ News October 2011

Canadian Congress Sparks Enthusiasm for IFAJ

Mike Wilson
IFAJ President

In September IFAJ held an excellent congress in Canada, launching exciting new programs and exploring “new world agriculture,” the theme of the event. Hats off to our Canadian colleagues who worked extremely hard to put this event together. You can see some of the highlights at our web page, www.ifaj.org; click on “events,” then “Past congresses.”

Those days in Canada passed like the rush of water thundering over Niagara Falls – really fast! We saw the first IFAJ-Yara award winner announced, took our new Master Class program through a two-day workshop, and held a boot camp-style professional development seminar for young journalists in the Alltech Young Leaders program. We also experienced amazing farm and ranch visits, learned about top-level Canadian research and got a close up glimpse of native culture.

The mood was upbeat and electric in Canada, in part because the IFAJ is focusing more outreach to ag communicators in countries beyond its typical regions. The Master Class, sponsored by Pioneer and coordinated by Agriterra, is part of a new outreach effort to link IFAJ with journalists from developing countries. Leaders of the IFAJ have agreed to develop a plan that will continue to move the organization in this direction.

I was privileged to take part in some of the discussions with these journalists, who hail from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. It was interesting to learn that many of us face the same issues as reporters and journalists. However, many of those folks face much tougher challenges living and working in countries where they can hardly afford a laptop, or where the government will throw them in jail if they write something critical.

We don’t yet know how the IFAJ will develop into a meaningful partner with these journalists. But we do know we have the desire to move in this direction, and comments from our members, made during the Congress, affirmed this idea.

The strategic planning is only in its first stages. The difficult part is ahead, as we try to come to some agreements about how the organization should look. That will take time, patience, and compromise on the part of IFAJ leaders.

That’s not always easy in an international group. But we are united by a common purpose. What I hope will eventually emerge is a global organization more relevant than ever before in its 57-year history.

To our colleagues in Canada, I congratulate you. And to everyone reading this, we welcome all thoughts and ideas as IFAJ begins to reshape its future. Send me an email at mwilson(at)farmprogress.com.

Danish writer wins Star Prize for print journalism

Per Henrik Hansen of Denmark is this year’s winner of the IFAJ Star Prize for print journalism. The award was made at the 2011 International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) Congress awards banquet in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.

Hansen’s article ”Chickens Designed for Growth” was published in Spis Bare magazine. Ashley Walmsley of Australia  received distinguished recognition for the story ”The Asian Invasion” in Good Fruit and Vegetables.

The Star Prize for print journalism is sponsored by John Deere. The winner receives a certificate, a gold IFAJ pin and a 750 Euro cash prize. The runner up receives a 250 Euro cash prize.

The judges said Hansen wrote “a beautiful story built around a controversial topic, broiler production. He describes the turning point for the industry with the arrival of legislation, and using actual figures shows that welfare has improved ever since. He lets critics (scientists) speak who think the legislation doesn’t go far enough. The glimpse into the organic versus non-organic broiler production is refreshing, especially because it is supported by concrete financial data.”

As for Walmsley’s story about Asian honeybees, the judges said the writer “shows his journalistic astonishment at how  the Australian fruit and vegetable industry refused to assist in a program to eradicate the dangerous Asian honeybee. Walmsley shows us why this bee is so dangerous in three sidebars, while the main story  questions why 11 organizations refused to assist in the eradicating program.”

This year’s competition drew entries from 11 IFAJ member countries. Judges were Ed Cassavoy, news editor for the Toronto Star newspaper, Canada, and Rochus Kingmans, former editor of Boerderij and head of publishing for CRV, The Netherlands. The competition coordinator was IFAJ secretary general Owen Roberts of Canada.

Further information about the IFAJ Star Prize for print journalism is available on the IFAJ website at www.ifaj.org, or by contacting Roberts at owen@uoguelph.ca.

Sweden launches website on ifaj.org

Marina Tell

On October 1, the Swedish Congress website will launch. Visit ifaj.org for all 2012 Congress information. Select “Congress2012” from the menu. The sub menus will continually be filled with more information.

Congress General Secretary Lena Johansson said, “We are delighted to try this opportunity. The Congress program is already set. Currently, we are planning study tour details and working intensively with our sponsors. As the project grows, more people are joining our congress team. We are very happy and proud of this.”

Sustainability will be the focus of the Swedish Congress; the theme is “Solutions for a green future”.

Johansson said, “Farmers can be great contributors to a sustainable society. That’s why we have chosen this theme. To give examples on how agriculture and forestry can offer several solutions to problems, such as climate change and energy crisis.

Registration will begin February 2012 and is limited to 200 delegates. There will be as many as eight study tours. The concluding dinner will be at the City Hall of Stockholm, a well-known destination from television because of the Noble Prize Dinner. Post congress tours will visit Gotland, the Sweden’s largest island located in the Baltic Sea. Gotland is one of the largest farming provinces of Sweden.

Look forward to IFAJ Congress 2012 in Sweden, August 15-19, 2012.

Welcome to Sweden!

First IFAJ-YARA award winners announced

Alan Scholz  of Saskatchewan, Canada is the first winner of the IFAJ-YARA Award for Reporting on Sustainable World Agriculture. Alan’s story “Food Scarcity – A Myth?” appeared in the Spring 2011 edition of Sustainable Futures magazine published by the Agricultural Institute of Canada.

Judges said, “Alan dared to ask if there really is a problem with sustainability, and like good journalism often does, it offered a contrary direction to popular thought. Alan’s story opened the door for further debate and discussion. But despite its clear perspective, the story was well balanced, offering no single, simple feel-good solution. He described this complex, emotional topic fairly, in an easy-to-understand, realistic way that can basically be summed up by saying a multi-faceted approach is needed to address the complicated food problem.”

Deanna Lush of Australia received distinguished recognition for her story in Stock & Land newspaper, titled ”Crop quality key to feeding the world.”

The judges said, “Deanna focused on better food quality, and not just quantity, an important aspect of producing enough food for more than nine billion people in 2050.” Her story focused on nutrient deficiency – sometimes called hidden hunger – and praised her for describing farmers’ and scientists’ role in reducing nutrient deficiency. Several relevant cases are used, giving the reader a thorough understanding of the problem.

Laura Rance of Canada also received distinguished recognition for her story in the Winnipeg Free Press newspaper, “Put on pot of soup, help fight food crisis.” Judges called her story, “very well-balanced, discussing pros and cons.” They said Rance, “combines different aspects of the world food situation in a very convincing way. Conclusions from FAO and from researchers are taken into account and presented, so that it can be used in daily life. She succeeds in presenting a complicated problem and a simple set of solutions.”

The awards were announced at the 2011 International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) Congress awards banquet in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.

The competition drew 23 entries from eight countries. The theme was how to feed a growing world population.

Judges for the inaugural competition were Henning Otte Hansen of Denmark, Cathy Reade of Australia’s Crawford Fund and a team of Fred Kirschenmann, Jeri Neal and Laura Miller of the University of Iowa’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

Competition coordinator was IFAJ secretary general Owen Roberts of Canada. Guidance, support and liaison activities for the inaugural award were provided by IFAJ member Jorgen Lund Christiansen of Denmark.

Further information about the IFAJ-YARA award is available on the IFAJ website at www.ifaj.org, or by contacting Roberts at owen(at)uoguelph.ca.

Well Known British Livestock Photographer Retires

Joe Watson
Great Britain

One of Britain's best-known livestock photographers has brought down the shutter after completing almost six decades in the business.

Douglas Low retired in August after 55 years as an agricultural photographer. He started his career with the Glasgow-based Scottish Farmer in 1956, and then worked for The Press and Journal, a Scottish regional daily newspaper in 1961. He returned to the Scottish Farmer in 1970, but two years later started his own business. He is a long time member of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Great Britain.

He spent years capturing the ever-changing nature of Britain's farming industry, including the introduction of many new breeds such as  Charolais, Limousin and Holstein cattle,  as well as Texel and Charollais sheep. He was often the official photographer for several livestock breeds, including the Blackface, Suffolk and Texel sheep societies. He too was the official sheep photographer at the   UK’s  Royal Highland and Royal Welsh shows.

Douglas said, "Photography has also come a long way - glass plates to roll film to 35mm and now digital. In my day it had to be correct at the moment, no matter how long it took. Today all you need is a little box of tricks in your computer and enhance every shot. That’s progress, and now, everyone is a photographer – they think."

Winners named in Star Prize broadcast awards

Winners have been named in the IFAJ Star Prize for broadcast excellence. This year, celebrating 25 years with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Pip Courtney took the top prize in the television category and was named overall winner with her feature story ”Pipe Dreams”. An in-depth look at the controversial issue in her country of coal seam gas fields being developed on prime farmland, it was broadcast on ABC Landline.

Erik Poulsen from Denmark’s LandTV earned a commendation from the judges in the television category for his entry, “Dad started out with four cows”.

Australia had a strong showing in the broadcast competition. In the radio category, Julia Holman of ABC Rural won with a story about a major locust plague, broadcast on The Country Hour. Another ABC Rural journalist, Flint Duxfield, was the on-line radio winner, with “Farmers don’t really use twitter...do they?”

Nancy Nicolson of Farmers Weekly in Great Britain won first place in the online television category with a feature on crofting.

Award coordinator Liz Harfull says working independently, both members of the judging panel (Arthur Anderson of Scotland and Andrew Campbell of Canada) had come to identical conclusions about the results in every category. They were particularly impressed with the overall winner, which they described as a splendid piece of television journalism, impossible to fault.

"They agreed the piece was balanced and objective, precise and sharply edited, and featured great characters in a package that informed any audience, general or specialist,” says Harfull.

The judges also praised Poulsen’s highly commended entry as a first-class piece of agricultural journalism for television, a rich human story of success and growth in the face of changing times. It was clearly scripted and well structured.

The winning radio entry was an informative piece of work, making effective use of natural sounds and presenting the story from a great angle; and the top online radio story was thoughtful, featuring strong interviews that captured the interviewee’s enthusiasm for twitter.

The judges also agreed Nicolson’s winning online video entry was a very strong report. Informative, sharp, coherently structured, well-written and presented, it held the viewer’s attention from start to finish.

In congratulating the winners, Harfull says there had been a significant improvement in the number and quality of online entries submitted this year, showing that agricultural journalists were starting to make more use of internet-based broadcast options.

Interestingly, journalists who had once worked in a single discipline, were broadening their skills to work on-line, and presenting stories in packages that combined audio, video, text and photos as well as links to other web-based material.

She encouraged IFAJ members to keep supporting the broadcasting award, which is only in its second year.

The winning entries are available to view via the IFAJ website at www.ifaj.org. For further information about the IFAJ Star Prize for broadcast excellence visit the website or contact IFAJ secretary general Owen Roberts at owen(at)uoguelph.ca.