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Lena Johansson addresses membership as the first woman president for IFAJ

“Agriculture needs specialized, experienced journalists and communicators who can describe and explain the whole, complex picture”

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Thank you for your support in my election as IFAJ president. It has been four very interesting and educational years as vice-president, and I’m really looking forward to my new assignment.

It wasn’t meant to be like this. When IFAJ’s first woman president took up her position, we should have celebrated together. But lots of things have been different these last months. It’s such a shame that we couldn’t meet in Denmark in June, but I admire our Danish friends who overcame their disappointment so quickly and jumped back on the horse again in offering to host the 2021 congress. Our fingers are crossed that the COVID-19 situation around the world will improve so we all can meet in Vingsted 2021.

It has certainly been a strange spring and the autumn will no doubt be similar. It is not easy for a global organization to continue its work with closed borders. But thanks to digital channels we have been able to stay in contact, keep up our work and even conduct our congress and the elections. Much of this is due to excellent support from our Global Office.

The time in lockdown has also reminded us how important our worldwide network is. When we felt isolated and sometimes badly informed, we could easily reach out for a colleague almost anywhere in the world.

The pandemic has also stressed the importance of agriculture. Even in countries where common people are very distanced from farming, they’ve suddenly realized where their food comes from. And I have a feeling that this is just the beginning. Sustainable agriculture and forestry have solutions to offer for many of our future challenges, and this calls for good agriculture journalism and communication as well. Agriculture is too important to be left only to the mainstream media. It needs specialized, experienced journalists and communicators who can describe and explain the whole, complex picture – both to farmers and consumers – without simplifying too much.

I have been a journalist for 40 years, and during that time media has gone through enormous changes. But I’m convinced that there will be a need for edited and well-presented information and news about agriculture and forestry in the future. Though it is possible to find almost any information on the internet, people need professionals who can present complex topics such as agriculture to them. 

Even IFAJ has gone through big changes since I first came in contact with the organization. At my first congress in 1995, there were mainly elderly men with their spouses. There is nothing wrong with old men, but if an organization intends to live on and evolve, it also needs young people. Therefore, it is such a pleasure to see all the young people who attend congresses nowadays, especially all the young professional women.

I want to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues in the Presidium for their excellent cooperation during the last four years. I’m glad we can keep all the knowledge and experience Steve Werblow and Adrian Bell have contributed. And I welcome “Addy” (Adalberto Rossi) as the first Presidium member from South America. I am sure that this means that we can broaden our network even further because we can’t call ourselves a worldwide organization if we only have presidium members from Europe and North America.

I also want to show my gratitude for Owen Robert´s long-lasting work for IFAJ. He has served in the presidium for 12 years and has promised to support us even in the coming years. The former presidents have done an excellent job for IFAJ, and although I won’t be another Owen or Markus or Mike, I will do my very best to make an equal contribution in my own way.

Once again, thank you all for your support, I hope I can honour it because from now on I will need it as much as ever. In closing, I’m really looking forward to keeping up the good work together as a team – with the presidium, the executive committee, the country guilds, all individual members and partners.