Trustees of the Joe Watson Legacy Fund (JWLF) have announced details of the annual bursary programme, which this year will assist three British guild members in attending IFAJ Congress.
Titled ‘New Frontiers in the West’, the IFAJ’s 67th Congress will be hosted by the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation (CFWF) in Alberta, Canada’s fourth-largest province. With agriculture a mainstay of the region’s economy, delegates can expect a wide-ranging insight into an industry that generated $14.1bn (£8.41bn) in agri-food exports in 2021, predominantly through beef, cereals and canola.
“Congress is an incredible way to learn about a country, its culture and its food production,” says freelancer Petra Jacob, who took part in the 2022 Denmark Congress as a Joe Watson bursary recipient.
“The stories I got from Denmark were fantastic and I’m still writing articles from those visits.
Meet ‘your tribe’ “When you go on Congress, it’s like meeting your tribe – people from all over the world, all interested in agriculture, so there is a real connection. It’s not only about getting to know farming in another country, it’s about getting to know people globally too.”
All BGAJ members are eligible to attend Congress, through the Guild’s membership of IFAJ. “If you enjoy the buzz of the Guild’s Harvest Lunch, then you’ll love Congress,” says Adrian Bell, JWLF chair of trustees and IFAJ Treasurer.
“The difference is that Congress is spread across five days, you’ve got these outstanding tours to farms and companies and institutions and food facilities, and you’re sharing that time with around 200 agricultural journalists from all around the world.
“All of them are as eager as you to track down the stories, not only to see the host country’s farming through the eyes of their farmers but also to compare and contrast farming systems with those in their home country,” Adrian explains.
‘Fanatic’ “Joe understood this and was fanatic about Congress. He saw its value to him as a journalist and an agriculturalist, as well as the cultural and social enjoyment afforded by travel.”
Trustees have decided to use this year’s grant to heavily subsidise the delegate registration fee for three British participants, taking it to just £170. This includes all accommodation, transportation and tours during the Congress, together with all meals, for the six-night event. Applicants will be responsible for their airfares to and from Calgary (approx. £600).
“This is a terrific opportunity for three members who’ve not yet experienced the magic that is IFAJ Congress,” says Adrian. “I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed; you may well come away feeling hooked on IFAJ. I’m into double figures for Congress attendance.”
Congress dates are June 27-July 3; the Congress website carries more information about tours and registration.
How to apply Interested? You’ll be in good company: British delegates will include BGAJ Chairman Johann Tasker, newly elected IFAJ Executive member Olivia Cooper, Jane Craigie and Adrian Bell, among others. To join them, and nearly 200 overseas agricultural journalists from six continents, complete the application form here and return to Adrian Bell (Adrian.email@example.com) before April 14.