The semi-annual meeting of the IFAJ Executive Committee was hosted by the Irish Guild of Agricultural Journalists from 31 October to 3 November in Dublin, Ireland. More than 20 members of the IFAJ Presidium, Executive Committee and the Global Office participated in two days of meetings, several farm visits and a panel discussion on Brexit, which has significant implications for the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, particularly for agricultural trade. The most serious business, however, was the bi-annual awards ceremony for the Irish guild, which brought together over 200 participants for a gala black-tie event.
Back to business, and there was lots of it for the Executives to discuss and decide upon.
The Ireland meeting was the last one for three long-standing members, Riitta Mustonen of Finland, Allison Finnamore from Canada and Nico Van Burick from South Africa. Riitta has been participating in IFAJ congresses since the 1990s, was Secretary General on the IFAJ presidium from 2012 to 2016, and lately served as chairperson of the membership, benefits and outreach committee for the Executive. Allison has been an executive member since 2010 and chaired the professional development committee as well as organizing the Star prize for the photography category. Nico participated as an executive member for a number of years, was a member of Vision 2020 committee and played a big role in hosting the IFAJ congress in South Africa in 2017. A big “Thank you!” for all their dedicated efforts on behalf of agricultural journalists worldwide.
Nico Van Burick joined a portion of the Ireland gathering of executives by telemeeting, along with four other executive members: Jefferson Massah from Liberia, Daud Abdi Daud Dimbil from Somalia and Jean de Dieu Ininahazwe from Burundi.
The culture shift in IFAJ (see President Owen Roberts’ recent blog) all started back in 2013 with the Vision 2020 Committee, which was formed with the mandate to recommend how IFAJ could become a more global organization. One of those recommendations was to change the constitution to open up membership, which has been very successful with the increase from 33 to 50 members in just three years. So, with 2020 on the horizon and much of the 10-point implementation plan having been accomplished, it’s time to turn to Vision 2025 and the creation of a new mandate for further advancing the IFAJ program. To this end, the Vision 2025 committee will be formed in early 2019 with the aim to bring forward a new five-year plan by the end of the year. Standby for more news on Vision 2025!
In discussing various organizational items, including membership fees, it became apparent that IFAJ provides a wide range of membership benefits and activities but that a better job could be done communicating all that IFAJ does. So, being communicators, the mandate was given to the Communications Committee to prepare a communications plan, and to the Membership Committee to compile a list of all the programs and activities organized by IFAJ. These were reviewed during the Executive Committee meeting and will be implemented early 2019.
Code of Conduct
IFAJ has been working on a Code of Conduct during 2018, the purpose being to provide members with guidance on professional conduct to ensure a collegial, respectful and harassment‐free experience for everyone. Final comments were received on the draft document at the Ireland executive meeting and it will now be submitted for legal review before being published in early 2019.
Foundation and IFAJ Ltd.
Work continued on drafting the by-laws for the proposed foundation and preparing revisions to the IFAJ constitution so that IFAJ can become an officially registered on-profit organization. These provisions will be further discussed at the Executive Committee telemeeting scheduled for 30 January 2019, and then decided upon at a Special Delegates Assembly on 8 May 2019. This will be an online first for IFAJ to hold such a meeting electronically and research into voting software will have to be carried out to ensure that decisions can be taken in an efficient and appropriate manner.
New Member Category
IFAJ has received a letter of inquiry from the Livestock Publications Council about membership in IFAJ. This US-based association is made up of some 50 livestock publications with some of the individuals working for these publications already being IFAJ members through the American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA). While this presents new membership potential for IFAJ, along with the numerous inquiries from individual journalists from non-member countries, the current membership criteria make it difficult to accommodate these potential members. Therefore the Membership Committee is reviewing options for revising the criteria in order to take advantage of welcoming even more members into the IFAJ fold.