Published on 1st March 2020
“The only way you can inform your own opinions and learn, is to see the world through another person’s eyes.”
That’s how Mick Roberts (pictured above), the recipient of a bursary from the Joe Watson Legacy Fund, summed up his experiences as a first-time attendee at IFAJ Congress last year.
Now the Fund’s Trustees are encouraging Guild members to follow in his footsteps with a fully-paid stipend for the 2020 IFAJ Congress in Denmark, from 24-28 June.
The stipend will cover the costs of return flights plus accommodation during the congress. One Guild member will be selected by midnight on Friday 13 March.
The 2020 Congress
Entitled ‘Farming Today for the Society of Tomorrow’, the Congress seeks to address head-on how society can balance agricultural productivity, environmental responsibility and consumer expectations. Denmark believes its brand and approach to agriculture is part of the solution.
Janne Hansen, one of the Danish organising committee, says the Danish guild is eager to share Danish agriculture with colleagues from around the world.
“Danish agriculture is in the world elite with regard to seed, mink, pork and dairy production,” she says. “We’ve also a thriving and significant organic farming sector, which is expanding rapidly.
“We produce enough food to feed our population three times over and almost half of our agricultural exports are sold as high value products. Yet the industry’s worked hard to reduce its environmental effects on soil, water and the atmosphere, while still increasing food production.
“Biodiversity, afforestation and establishment of wetlands all play an increasingly important role in Danish agriculture, and it’s thanks to Danish farmers that our rural communities remain active and vibrant, and that there’s access to recreation, activities and nature reserves.
“While public debate is difficult and often filled with conflict, with constant dialogue and discussions with politicians and NGOs, businesses, farmers and research, we find solutions that benefit farming and society.”
As well as gaining valuable insights into a new country’s agriculture from visits to farms, research stations and food businesses, delegates at Congress will also make new friends and contacts while enjoying a healthy social programme.
“In the evenings I met journalists of all ages and experience, from all over the world,” Mick recalls of his visit to the Minneapolis Congress. “We exchanged ideas, views and argued!”
“I also quickly realised there are quite a few IFAJ Congress regulars as I watched colleagues embrace, laugh and catch up on a year’s worth of news.”
Joe Watson, the late Press & Journal farming editor, was a self-confessed IFAJ Congress addict. Not only did it provide valuable material to share with his readers, but it also addressed his love of overseas travel and of course the opportunity to meet his wide band of international friends. Joe would be delighted that the British Guild’s Congress legacy, named in his honour, is helping to perpetuate involvement in Congress by British Guild members.
Getting your application in
The fund’s Trustees – Adrian Bell, Louise Impey and Julie Mate – invite applications for the 2020 stipend. There are just two conditions of entry: applicants must be full-time agricultural journalists or communicators (i.e. full members of the BGAJ, not friends, or retired), and they must not have attended any previous IFAJ Congress.
The Fund has two objectives: improving the understanding of agriculture and providing better education for agricultural journalism or communication. Applicants are therefore encouraged to focus their written applications on what they would gain from participation, both personally and professionally. Entries are particularly welcome from the Guild’s U35 membership.
Trustees will select the successful recipient according to the quality of the application and alignment with the Fund’s charitable objectives. The selected candidate will receive a full registration (including accommodation in a single room, tours, meals and all programming) at the 2020 IFAJ Congress and return economy air travel between London and Billund.
Applications should be sent to the chairman of trustees, Adrian Bell, who is also available to those who have questions about the stipend.