A Scots piper, the British Ambassador to Germany and Britain’s environment and rural affairs Secretary helped celebrate the IFAJ launch of the Guild’s initiative to tell the World about the innovative nature of British agriculture.
From left: IFAJ president Markus Rediger with His Excellency Simon McDonald, British Ambassador to Germany and the Rt Hon Owen Paterson, MP Secretary of State for Environment & Rural Affairs.
The prestige event at the British Embassy during International Green Week in Berlin followed a presentation of final plans for IFAJ Congress 2014 being held in September. The details were well received by journalists from around the World representing their guilds and press clubs on the executive committee of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ).
Attending for the Guild were chairman Jane Craigie, IFAJ representative Joe Watson and joint congress organising chairmen Adrian Bell and Howard Venters. Richard Malloch of Scottish Enterprise food and drink team represented the numerous organisations now supporting the congress.
“It was marvellous to have a celebration event at the British Embassy hosted by Simon McDonald, the Ambassador, and Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for environment and rural affairs,” says Jane. “I think it really impressed the IFAJ executive delegates and I hope they will encourage their members to come to Britain in September for the congress.”
Securing the support of Owen Paterson was a real coup; Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for rural affairs Richard Lochhead has already shown enthusiasm for the venture and it appears the Defra secretary is now very much ‘on board’ too.
“The Berlin launch event has really highlighted to Owen Paterson the importance and potential of our Congress in showcasing British agriculture,” says Adrian Bell. “So much so that he has cleared a time in September so that he can be involved in the pre-Congress tour in London.”
The full programme, as outlined to the executive committe, is set out on the IFAJ Congress 2014 website managed by Guild member Johann Tasker. Guild member volunteers will be needed to help host these events.
A pre-Congress tour for around 50 international journalists will be based at The Farmers Club and take in visits to Kew for the Millenium Seed Bank, the 4000-acre Leckford Estate in Hampshire, Smithfield Market and two City Farms.
They will join their fellow journalists for the main event in Aberdeen after a sleeper train journey. Tours will give an insight into grain, sheep, beef, dairy and fruit production by visiting farms and estates in north-east Scotland, as well as food, whisky, renewable energy and other rural industry activities.
Again, members are asked to reserve a day or two in their diaries to help out as ‘Congress Makers’ and ensure our journalist colleagues from around the World get the best possible experience.
Journalists taking in the optional post-Congress tour will fly to Birmingham for farm and rural enterprise visits in the Midlands and Wales, taking in the Duchy Home Farm, Ludlow Food Centre, an innovative upland management project, and genomic DNA research to help improve sheep breeding.
Dates and timings are detailed on the IFAJ Congress 2014 website where Guild members can sign up to receive the regular Congress newsletter. Bookings for Congress delegates open in February.