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2021 IFAJ eCongress

If you missed any of the live program, 

you can now view the recordings of all sessions

The annual congress is IFAJ’s flagship event, with many information and professional development activities for agricultural journalists and communicators around the world. This year it was offered as an online event due to the continuing restrictions of the COVID pandemic. Held from 23-25 August 2021, the IFAJ eCongress offered seven different sessions on topics ranging from global trade to press freedom. Each session was recorded and is now available for viewing again via the titles listed below.

Reminder: The in person IFAJ Congress has been rescheduled to 2022 in Denmark. You can find out more information on the Congress website, and you can also sign up to the Danish organizing committee’s Facebook page for regular updates about the program and registration.

Global Trade

Impacts on Global Agricultural Trade:
Brexit & China’s ‘Belt & Road’ Initiative

Steve Werblow, IFAJ Vice-President


Phelim O’Neill, Market Intelligence & EU Specialist
Irish Farmers Journal
Born and raised on, and still involved with, a small farm in County Tyrone, graduated in Law from Queens University Belfast and hold a Master’s in Business Strategy from Ulster University. Joined the Irish Farmers Journal in 2015 and cover international markets and EU affairs; in particular Brexit, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and trade negotiations that impact on farming and the food industry. Spent considerable time in Brussels prior to the pandemic and hope to do so again soon. Prior to becoming part of the IFJ team, entire working career has been spent around the meat industry. Worked in Omagh Meats in a variety of roles for 11 years, then moving to the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) as head of marketing and communication. Held the role of Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association (NIMEA) the Trade Association for the meat factories in NI prior to joining the Irish Farmers Journal in 2015.


Carlo Dade, Director of the Trade & Investment Centre
Canada West Foundation

An independent, non-partisan public policy think tank that focuses on the policies that shape western Canada, and by extension, Canada as a whole. As Director of the Trade & Investment Centre, Carlo Dade develops and leads research to promote growth and profitability in western Canada’s export economy. Carlo has been a leading voice in debates on recent Canadian free trade agreements and development of trade infrastructure. He is a leading global expert on pan-Pacific trade, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Pacific Alliance trade blocs.

Twitter: @DadeCWF

Virtual Tour: How Belgium became a Potato Powerhouse

Potatoes are the fourth most important staple crop in the world, and Belgium is one of the world’s leading producers. How did such a small country achieve such incredible growth and what challenges does it face for further growth? This 1.5-hour session, including a 12-minute video tour, aims to answer these questions and more. 


Melanie Epp, IFAJ Executive Member, Belgium

Melanie Epp is a freelance agricultural journalist from Ontario, Canada. She has been writing professionally since 2009 and currently lives in Belgium. She writes about everything from poultry to potatoes, dairy farming to grain production and writes regularly for over 25 publications in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.

Melanie served as president of the Professional Writers’ Association of Canada (PWAC) Guelph Chapter for two years. She also served as First Vice President of the Eastern Canada Farm Writers’ Association (ECFWA), and as director on the board of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation (CFWF). Melanie is also a member of Belgische Vereniging van Land en Tuinbouw, Voedings en Plattelandsjournalisten (BVLJ-ABJA, the European Network of Agricultural Journalists (ENAJ)and is the executive member from Belgium for the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ).


Steven de Cuyper, Director of Agronomy at Agristo, a private label potato processor. Steven is also President of Vegaplan, and Second Vice-President of, the branch organisation for the Belgian potato sector.

Amandine Eeckhaut operates a mixed farm in Waregem, Belgium. She and her husband take a full-circle approach to farming, incorporating a 550-head herd of Belgian Blue cattle into an arable farm that includes potatoes, onions, wheat, sugar beets and corn. Amandine is the Second Vice-President of, representing Flemish farmers. 

Kürt Demeulemeester is Department Head of Arable Crops at Inagro, a West Flemish institute focused on applied research and consultancy in arable crops. 

Romain Cools is President and CEO of the World Potato Congress. He is past president of Belgapom, having served the association for 30 years. Romain served as secretary-general of Europatat, the European potato trade association, for 15 years, and the European Potato Processing Association (EUPPA) for seven years. He is Belgium’s foremost expert on all things potato. 




Original Video:

Supplemental press kit:

Cimate Change

Earth, Fire & Water
Impacts of Climate Change on Agriculture

The evidence of climate change has become overwhelming, and the impacts are already beginning to be felt around the world: wildfires, flooding, drought, weather extremes, amongst others. The three presenters will talk about their work and perspectives on climate change and the effect of and impact on agriculture, as well as some of changes that need to be made, and how they could be made, to contribute to the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change in a positive way.

Farah Atyyat, Senior Journalist, Al-Ghad daily newspaper, Jordan

Farah works in Al-Ghad Daily Newspaper from May 2004 until now, covering the Ministry of Environment and Municipal Affairs for more than 10 Years. During My work, I earned a Multi-Arab and International Awards for the journalistic work, such as the prize for the regional competition for young journalists on issues of protecting the ozone layer, organized by the Ozone Unit for West Asia in the United Nations Environment Program. I’m a certified trainer in media issues, I used to give training in different media subjects for the people who work in the media field, especially in Oman. Previously I worked as correspondent for a number of Arabic TV channels such as Kuwait Tv, and Oman Tv. Recently I got a master’s degree from the Jordan Media Institute in the field of journalism and new media. My first research paper on “Ethical Standards in Publishing Press Pictures on Websites” was published in Mutah Journal for Studies and Research in March 2021.

Seta Tutundjian, Director of Programs, ICBA

Seta Tutundjian , Director of Programs, International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture, is an advocate and change champion for sustainable development and sustainable food systems under a changing climate, accelerated biodiversity loss, continuous degradation of natural ecosystems, and expanding poverty and hunger. She has led the formulation and execution of acclaimed transformational programs that engaged stakeholders and mobilized community action to introduce novel approaches and build a demand management culture in the water, agricultural and energy sectors. Programs she led are used as case studies for best practices.  A recipient of several awards including the prestigious Superior Honor Award by the Government of the United States of America, Ms. Tutundjian is also Chair of the United Nation Food System Summit, and serves on the Advisory Committee for the XV World Forestry Congress; General Board of United Cities – The International Centre for Smart and Sustainable Cities and Regions, and the Executive Committee of the Association of Agricultural Research Institutions in the Near East. 


Jez Fredenburgh, freelance journalist, UK

Jez has been working full time as an agricultural journalist for eight years. She cut her teeth as a business reporter and editor at Farmers Weekly in the UK, where she covered supermarkets, trade, markets, politics, policy, and sustainability. While there, she participated in the IFAJ conference in Scotland, won an award from the Great Britain guild for an investigative story, and was awarded a travel bursary to report in China and Hong Kong, producing a 6-part series with audio and video. As a freelancer, she has reported from Colombia on coffee farming and agritourism for Huck magazine, from Ecuador and the Ivory Coast on cacao production and fair trade, written about Greek and Portuguese food specialties for National Geographic Traveller Food, and the impact of Covid on the cut flower industry and spice trade for the BBC. She hosts and produces the main interview each week on the Farmers Guardian podcast, covering everything from regenerative agriculture to mental health, and regularly covers environmental stories for the farming press. In 2020 she was awarded an IFAJ-Caterpillar bursary to investigate wildfires in different European countries, in particular the causes and impacts in relation to farming. This resulted in a long form feature for BBC Future about the scientists racing against time to understand the meteorological phenomena caused by wildfires. You can read her report here.


Dr. Majd Al Naber, Team Leader & Senior Researcher, Sustainable Development, WANA

Dr. Al Naber is the Team Leader and Senior Researcher in the Sustainable Development pillar at West Asia-North Africa (WANA) Institute. She manages several projects addressing the environmental challenges facing the WANA region. She takes a multidisciplinary approach that encompasses the fields of climate change, food, poverty, gender, culture, water, agriculture and energy from a transboundary dimension. She is a specialist in integrated water resources management and water policy for arid land. She received her Doctor of Philosophy double degree from the Wageningen University, The Netherlands and SupAgro, Montpelier, France.  Her doctoral research investigated the dynamics and governance of groundwater use in the Middle East and North Africa; Technical and Institutional Innovations in Arid Zones: Groundwater-based Agriculture in Arid Land; the Case of Azraq Basin, Jordan. She holds a master’s degree in Science from the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies / Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari-Italy. She authored and co-authored numerous publications.

Rural Youth

Rural Youth & Agriculture
A roundtable discussion on how young agricultural journalists & communicators see the future post-COVID

Jane Craigie, IFAJ Executive Member, Great Britain

Jane is a traveller, a marketer and an agriculturalist. Aged 16, with no history in agriculture, she decided agriculture was her path, and communication her passion. “I see the world in people and their stories.” Jane runs a marketing and communications consultancy specialising in agriculture, food and rural affairs. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing as well as a Member of the Chartered Institute of PR. She is also a Fellow of the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists and a Professional Agriculturalist (P.Agric). Jane is actively involved in the international rural leadership community and was the co-founder of the international Rural Youth Project, a youth leadership, enterprise and activism initiative, focused on better understanding and supporting young rural people, aged 18-28, to enact positive change in their communities. Jane is based in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, she on the executive board of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, is a Trustee of LANTRA, a skills and training organisation, a board member of SRUC and Ringlink Scotland.


Claire McCormack, Ireland

Claire McCormack is Farming & Rural Affairs Reporter at Mediahuis Ireland. She writes on all aspects of agriculture and rural life for the Farming Independent and Irish Independent via both digital and print mediums. Claire has worked full-time in mainstream and agricultural journalism since 2014.Academically, she holds a BA (English and Sociology) from Maynooth University, M.Phil in Literature of the Americas from Trinity College Dublin, MA in Journalism from Dublin City University and a MSc(Agr) in Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development from University College Dublin. She was awarded the Veronica Guerin Memorial Scholarship at DCU in 2014. Claire is from an agricultural background in Co. Westmeath, Ireland.

Wyatt Betchel, USA

Wyatt Bechtel has served as a manager for the agriculture marketing agency Filament since the fall of 2019. His primary duties include writing content and maintaining editor relations. For nearly six years, Wyatt worked at Farm Journal as an associate editor in the Livestock Division for the following publications: Drovers, Dairy Herd Management, and Farm Journal’s MILK. He also spent half a year at Vance Publishing covering the pork and dairy industries as an assistant editor. Wyatt is active in his family’s 4th generation ranch near Eureka, Kan., where he works part-time with his father and brother. Wyatt has participated in a variety of professional development and agriculture trade group programs in the past decade. In 2011-12, he was on the officer team for the National Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. Wyatt later took part in the Kansas Livestock Association’s Young Stockman’s Academy in 2016. Then in 2017, he participated in the IFAJ Congress in South Africa as a member of the American Agricultural Editors Association (AAEA) delegation. Wyatt graduated from Kansas State University in 2012 with a dual major in Animal Science and Agriculture Communications & Journalism.

Ffion Storer Jones, Brussels & Wales, UK

Ffion grew up on her family’s farm in Mid Wales. She started volunteering with a local charity, Dolen Ffermio (Farming Link) in her teens, which ignited a passion for sustainable global food production. Since graduating in 2015, Ffion has worked in advocacy communications, supporting international projects at Welsh and European level – from Fair Trade to global health. For recent years, Ffion has worked in Brussels, but her roots remain firmly in rural Wales. Ffion has recently conducted a survey of young people in rural Wales to understand their challenges and the opportunities they see. Ffion has been a member of the Montgomery Federation of Young Farmer’s Clubs for over ten years, running the first of its kind Young Farmers Fairtrade Project in 2019. Ffion is an alumni of the Welsh Government’s Rural Leadership Agri Academy.


Jodie Gunders, Australia

Jodie Gunders is the executive producer of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s rural team in Queensland, leading a team of nine rural reporters and two presenters to broadcast the Queensland Country Hour, Australia’s longest running radio program. She also provides editorial leadership across a range of platforms with a view to increasing audiences for rural content. In a media career spanning 20 years, Jodie has been a news journalist, radio presenter and producer before landing in rural (which she considers her best gig yet!) She is also a qualified secondary teacher, has a master’s degree in Learning and Development and currently leads her division’s traineeship program. In 2020, Jodie was awarded an IFAJ-Caterpillar bursary to carry out a comparison of rural affairs coverage by ABC and BBC. After an exchange visit to the UK, her report, entitled “The challenges and opportunities for rural journalism in public broadcasting: A case study of the ABC and BBC”, found that the more expert the journalist on rural affairs, or the closer he or she is geographically or by background to the story, the more accurate and balanced is the coverage. She will talk about her exchange experience and the importance of a strong team approach to covering rural affairs.

Freedom of the Press

Journalists Under Pressure

Journalists are under pressure around the world, from government restrictions & interference, criminal threats, intimidation and violence, from social media manipulation and from the financial and human resources provided by media for journalists to be able to carry out their work. Hear from two journalists about their challenges in trying to fight for freedom of the press, followed by a moderated discussion.

Michael “Micke” Godtfredsen, Chairperson, IFAJ Press Freedom Committee

Although officially retired, Micke keeps his hand in the profession as a freelancer and chairperson of the IFAJ Press Freedom Committee. He is past IFAJ Executive Member for Finland, worked at Landsbygdens Folk and studied journalism at Svenska social- och kommunalhögskolan. He lives in Borgå, Etelä-Suomen Lääni, Finland.

Jessikka Aro, Investigative Journalist, Finland

Jessikka is a Finnish investigative journalist and has been working for many years at the Finnish public service broadcasting company YLE. Around 2014 she started to make her investigations on Russian internet trolls, which she saw as a threat to the freedom of speech in her home country Finland. Jessikka interviewed employees at the troll factory who created faked accounts on the internet and made fake stories. Later on, she became a victim of the trolls herself with Russian fake news sites accusing Jessikka of working for the West’s security agencies. Jessikka’s articles on the topic led to receiving Bonnier’s Award for Story of the Year in 2016 and Bonnier’s Award for Journalism the following year. Later on, in 2019, she was to receive the International Women of Courage Award from the U.S. Department of State but this was rescinded just before the ceremony, probably because she had criticized the former president Donald Trump in public. The same year Jessikka visited Silicon Valley together with other victims of bullying to tell the bosses at Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube, that they would have to take action to stop the spreading of lies on the internet.


You can order Jessikka’s book Putin’s Trolls from this link:


You can support Daud’s broadcasting project through GoFundMe:

A Toast to Denmark

A Toast to Denmark

A preview of the 2022 congress to be held 27 June to 3 July 2022 in Vingsted, Denmark.

Presented by members of IFAJ’s Danish guild, Dansk Fodevare – Og Landbrugsjournalister (DFLJ).

The Danish Committee even has an official song, download it here.


Star Prize Ceremony

The Danish presentation was followed by the presentation of this year’s winning entries in the IFAJ Star Prize competition, the annual contest for best writing and broadcasting around the globe. Winning entries will be posted soon.