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Peter Hill

Guild members collar Commissioner Hogan on DG-Agri trip

Published on 28th February 2015

Members of the Guild joined agricultural journalists from across the EU to question new agricultural commissioner Phil Hogan on his plans for European agriculture during DG-Agri's annual AG-Press media networking event.

DG-Agri Networking 2015Freelancers Caroline Stocks and Johann Tasker (pictured far left and right) were the Guild's official delegates with Adrian Bell of Whisper.pr (second left) the Guild's representative to ENAJ, the European Network of Agricultural Journalists, whose chairman, Belgian journalist Jef Verhaeren, is also pictured.

Other Members of the Guild present at the invitation of DG-Agri were Ewan Pate, farming editor of The Courier,  freelancers Chris McCullough from Northern Ireland and field vegetable crops specialist Richard Shepherd-Barron.

Coinciding with the agriculture commissioner’s 100th day in office, the two-day networking event in Brussels gave the group the opportunity to meet Mr Hogan and his officials, and to debate issues surrounding the Common Agricultural Policy.

“We questioned him on subjects ranging from the dairy crisis to farm safety and retailer power, and he was also grilled on the new CAP regime, including his plans for reviewing the controversial three-crop rule,” reports Caroline.

The trip also included a meeting of the ENAJ general assembly where the group discussed ways to encourage young journalists to get involved in writing about agriculture, and explored ideas for future study trips.

“The event was a great opportunity to get to grips with CAP issues and to have time to really grill the commissioner about matters affecting UK farmers,” said Caroline. “It was also interesting to get different perspectives on farming issues from fellow ENAJ members. I’ve come away with lots of new contacts who I know will come in useful when I’m writing articles in future.”

The trip certainly yielded plenty of copy - Caroline wrote several articles for the Press & Journal and The Scotsman on milk prices and farm safety. She also wrote a feature on Commissioner Hogan for Farmers Guardian.

Johann wrote articles on farm safety, the three-crop rule and the dairy crisis for Farmers Weekly, and has written a piece on how the new CAP regime has been implemented in different member states.

Chris McCullough's report was published in The Scottish Farmer and Ewan Pate published a piece in The Courier.

Future facility trips to Brussels other parts of the EU will be flagged up in Guild eAlerts and on the ENAJ website, where Members of the Guild can sign up for the ENAJ quarterly newsletter to get first-hand information on visits and other events and activities.

A number of BGAJ journalist Members use the EU commission's DG-Agri AG-Press.eu website for access to press releases, commentary and other materials relating to agriculture in the EU and the CAP. Registered users are selected for invitations to regular DG-AGRI press trips. The DG-Agri communications team, which now includes former commissioner spokesman Roger Waite, a Member of the Guild, asks everyone who uses this resource to complete a brief survey here.

Posted by Peter Hill

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