A tribute to Belgian agricultural journalist Jacques van Outryve

Jacques van Outryve, Belgium’s representative in IFAJ’s executive committee for almost 20 years, is stepping down from his post. He attended his last executive meeting in September.

Jacques is succeeded by Dorien Colman, a young colleague who participated in the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism program at the federation’s congress in 2016.

Throughout the many years that I have known Jacques, he has always been one of IFAJ’s most committed members. IFAJ owes Jacques its gratitude for being a leader in helping equip non-IFAJ members with enhanced journalism skills. He and the Belgian guild worked hard on the beginnings of the Master Class program in 2010, the year the IFAJ congress was held in Belgium. That program has gone on to develop into a vital part of IFAJ’s global outreach.

As an educator and a journalist, Jacques has been a strong advocate for making IFAJ more global. His efforts have made IFAJ stronger. He is one of the pivotal European members in IFAJ’s history.

Jacques In Action (photo credit: Steve Werblow)

Some of Jacques colleagues recognize him in this way:

“The most important thing in any organization is leadership, and over many years, Jacques has shown that in abundance. He is a man of principles. He’s worked tirelessly for the IFAJ. He believes in transparency and he fought to make IFAJ more inclusive for the membership. While we had different opinions on issues regarding the direction of the organization, I always respected his point of view. What IFAJ has achieved today would not have been possible without Jacques’ input and commitment.”

  • David Markey, former IFAJ president

“Jacques started as agricultural journalist in 1980, and specialized immediately in CAP. He became a member of BVLJ-ABJA (the Belgian Guild) in 1981. In 1997 he became president for the first time. Since then he stayed in the board until this year and was president several time. Nobody has more years on our guild as president than Jacques. Since 1998 he was the Belgian IFAJ executive. In 1986 he won the Price Emile Désirant for Agricultural Journalism, the youngest ever winner. I met him in 1982 when I was spokesman of the Belgian Minister of Agriculture. He became well-known as a specialist in CAP. When young journalists, as well as other Belgians, came for the first time to the Council of Ministers of Agriculture and asked me to inform them about CAP, I sent them to Jacques. He coached a lot of young European journalists in CAP. Together with him, I organized the IFAJ congress of 2010. We were a team for many years. Jacques was very creative and came always with ideas. The Belgian guild will not be the same anymore without Jacques in the board.”

  • Jef Verhaeren, Jacques’ long-time Belgian guild colleague


Hans Siemes, former member of the Executive committee for the Netherlands:


“Jacques is a great guy, good journalist and a nice Belgian neighbour. He is an advocate for international cooperation of agriculture journalism in Europe and worldwide. He is also a defender of freedom of the press and fact checking. He is an encyclopedia for the European agricultural policy, the biggest expert in the world. He really knows everything about it.”

  • Hans Siemes, former member of the IFAJ executive committee for The Netherlands


“Jacques is one of the most professional agriculture journalists I know. He is an expert in agricultural policy, knows how to ask the right questions and he is critical and exact. He is always open to new ideas. During our meetings in Brussels I found out that all journalists and ag representatives know him. He is a very active networker. Hopefully he’ll keep giving us advice.”

  • Katharina Seuser, chair of the European Network of Agriculture Journalists