March 25, 2020
Dear IFAJ members,
I hope you and your families are safe and well, and if you didn’t already have a home office before the COVID-19 virus pandemic, that you are adapting to the challenges of working from home. I also hope you are finding ways to periodically move away from your computer screen. We have a 16-week-old puppy that can’t be walked enough, and she’s providing us with significant relief.
I’m writing to update you on IFAJ congresses and elections, and their many moving parts. The consequences of the uncertainty spread by the corona virus seem to know no bounds, and IFAJ activities have been affected accordingly.
If you’ve checked the IFAJ website (www.ifaj.org), the IFAJ Facebook page or either of the Danish or Australian congress Facebook pages, you’ll know there have been big changes over the past week or so.
To begin with, the Danish guild has cancelled its congress, which was to be held in June. There was simply no other choice. The Danish congress was shaping up to be one of the best organized congresses ever, and its legacy will remain even though the congress will not be held. If you have a Facebook account, please read my note regarding the congress cancellation on the IFAJ 2020 Facebook page.
Most lately, the Australian guild has withdrawn from hosting the 2021 congress. Australia was already reeling from the wildfires that ran rampant through the country last year. Additional fallout from the corona virus presented Australia with an impossible situation. Again, if you have a Facebook account, read Australian guild member Pete Lewis’s message here.
These were extremely difficult decisions for our member guilds and disheartening for everyone looking forward to experiencing Danish and Australian hospitality, along with the camaraderie of an IFAJ congress. Both guilds reached their decisions independently and with the full support of the IFAJ presidium.
Looking to the future, I have asked Jacqueline Wijbenga, chairperson of the IFAJ Host Country Liaison Committee, to convene a committee meeting over the next two weeks to discuss the options available for holding an IFAJ congress in 2021.
The road ahead will also include provisions for addressing matters at hand such as the development of the IFAJ Foundation and online elections this June for a new presidium. Elections are normally held in person every two years at the IFAJ congress.
However, one thing that not even COVID-19 could disrupt is IFAJ professional development. Rest assured contests are still taking place. Please see details here.
In closing, on behalf of the presidium, thank you for your support and participation in the world’s only organization dedicated solely to global agricultural journalism. We look forward to hearing any ideas you have for professional development, youth development and global outreach as we work as friends and colleagues through these troubled times.
COVID-19 may keep us apart, but I believe the IFAJ network will continue keeping us together — as it has for the past 60-plus years. This pandemic has made farmers more important than ever, as the world looks to them for a safe and secure food supply. That makes the knowledge mobilization work of agricultural journalists an essential part of managing and recovering from COVID 19. I hope you either already have a role in this way forward, or find one that helps support new challenges to our livelihoods.