British Guild of Agricultural Journalists
International Contacts, Annual Congress Tours, Professional Development, Writing & Photo Awards, Freelance Directory
Members of the Guild are also members of...

BGAJ eAlert - February 2013

Book a place at the annual meeting

Some places are still available to Members and Friends at the annual meeting, buffet lunch and industry launch of the IFAJ Congress 2014 being held in the magnificent surroundings of the Tower of London on Thursday, March 14. Apart from providing an opportunity to tour the Tower’s exhibits for free – thanks to generous sponsorship from the Massey Ferguson division of AGCO – there will be an exclusive briefing by George Freeman MP, government Life Science adviser and one of the architects of Defra’s soon-to-be-announced agricultural science strategy.

Further details are available in the eAlert Archive on the Guild website or contact Guild secretary Nikki Robertson (07584 022909). Use this link to EventBrite to book and print a ticket for the AGM and separately for lunch. Members and Friends do not need to book separately for the IFAJ Congress 2014 launch - this section of the booking process is for guests only.

Subscriptions 2013

The Guild annual subscription for 2013 was collected by Direct Debit on or around February 15. Please check bank statements to see whether the £68 subscription for Members and £68 fee for Friends has been collected correctly. Members with Retired status will have paid £34. Treasurer Tim Price will be able to issue receipts on request once he has received a statement to confirm that individual payments have gone through. Because the Guild is on HM Revenues & Customs list of professional organisations, the subscription is tax deductable if paid personally and can be entered as such on an income tax return.

DG Agri press trip – Ireland – March 10-12

A place is available for a Member of the British Guild to join a press trip to Ireland on March 10-12 organised by the European Commission’s directorate general for agriculture and rural development in connection with the Irish presidency of the EU. Following the theme Young farmers and diversification, the programme includes a meeting of leaders of EU Agriculture and Fisheries Committees, where Commissioner Ciolos will outline the latest developments on the CAP negotiations. Other events include the European Young Farmers Conference and visits to young farmers working with potatoes, dairy and livestock. The event starts in the Dublin area before heading south towards Tipperary. Transport and accommodation costs are covered other than dinners. Bids for the place to Monika Sikorska of the press and media department.

CAP negotiations update

The website set up by the European Commission’s DG Agri carries a video news report summarising latest policy developments. Topics discussed include the EU’s long-term budget (2014 to 2020); agriculture MEPs’ demands for CAP reform; and Commission proposals for a ban on common insecticides. Guild members can simply register to gain access to the site and use the numerous resources provided. Guild deputy chairman Jane Craigie also recommends the viEUwswebsite as a useful resource. “Run by Bruce Ross and his partner, it carries some excellent interviews of EU policy makers, lobbyists and general movers and shakers,” she says.

International congress - Argentina

‘Early bird’ bookings are being taken at discounted rates until March 18 for IFAJ Congress 2013, the international gathering of agriculture and rural journalists being held in Argentina, September 1-5. The £600 fee for a shared room covers all accommodation, transport and meals from arrival in Buenos Aires until departure. An optional three-day study tour can be added to the trip. For more details see the IFAJ Congress 2013 website; and see the Congress page on the Guild website to get a flavour of the experience. Guild chairman Adrian Bell and deputy Jane Craigie are attending, together with Council member Howard Venters and the Guild's IFAJ executive representative Joe Watson; check with them to co-ordinate flights.

Careers in agriculture and food

News and business journalist members of the Guild are invited to attend a Chartered Institute of Marketing event on Thursday, March 7 at 6.30pm on career prospects in agriculture and food. CIM member John Giles, a Friend of the Guild, says: “It is generally agreed that this is a good time to be involved with the agricultural and food sector, both in the UK and internationally, despite any challenges we face. A high level panel of experts will describe what it’s really like working in these industries; what opportunities exist; and what skill sets are needed.” The event is organised by CIM's food, drink and agriculture section at the University of Reading. More details here.

Meet the Beeb

The Guild's Midlands branch has arranged a visit to BBC Bristol to meet rural affairs editor Jeremy Hayes and his new team; a tour of the recording studios is also planned. The event– which is open to all Guild Members and Friends – is on Thursday, April 11 starting at 5.45pm. In case of number restrictions, please register to attend with Midlands secretary Liz Snaith.

New Guild awards

Guild awards secretary Louise Impey is delighted to announce two new Guild awards for written and broadcast journalism sponsored by two leading organisations in the agricultural industry. The Institution of Agricultural  Engineers (IAgrE) is supporting an award for published works illustrating the contribution of engineering technology to agriculture, while the British Society of Plant Breeders (BSPB) is backing the award for published or specially-written works reflecting on plant breeding impact at and beyond the farm gate. Entry details will be in special Award eAlerts arriving within the next few days.

Under 35s – new journalism award

Farm equipment manufacturer Claas is marking its Centenary with an award for young agricultural journalists aged 35 years or less. A €10,000 (£8600) cash prize fund will be shared by the top three entries and, as a condition of entry, the winners must attend the award ceremony at Germany’s Agritechnica 2013 show in November (see Industry Events Calendar on the Guild website for details). Entrants must submit (in German!) an article, report or portrait conveying the topic Farming of the future and the future of farming: where will the sector be in 30 years’ time? .

Creative photographers

The MacGregor Photography team has surely produced the most professional – and certainly one of the most entertaining – Gangnam Style spoof videos on YouTube. Guild members Catherine MacGregor and Catherine Laurenson persuaded farmers ringside at Stirling mart to perform; some clever editing then resulted in a brilliant sequence of cool moves. Enjoy it here.

Meanwhile, Tom Baker and colleague at Cowbell Pictures have redesigned their website to make it easier to navigate and also to highlight their recent work for a growing portfolio of agricultural clients. See the new site here.

Supermarket event

Guild member Teresa Wickham suggests keeping November 29 clear for the Sainsbury's Farming Conference being held at Stoneleigh Park this year.

Jobs & Recruitment

Vacant positions are mentioned in Guild eAlerts as a service to members but a recruitment advertising service is also available to organisations that wish to put full details about a post in front of the Guild's 430 members involved in journalism and commercial communications. More details about this service are available on the website here.

Candidates with strong online communication skills are being sought by 2degrees, a fast growing business working with one the world’s largest retailers to help them secure the long term supply of food by enabling their producers to collaborate online and share best agricultural practices. The Community Manager will facilitate online projects to share best practices for productivity improvements in agriculture generally, with a key focus on environmental sustainability. The challenge will be to encourage participation of producers who may be new to online communities and collaborative projects.

Weekly newspaper The Scottish Farmer is recruiting a trainee agricultural journalist to work at its Glasgow office.

New Year Book in preparation

As the new Year Book listing contact details and the professional interests of all Members and Friends of the Guild is now being prepared, please check your entry in the current edition and download the amendments form to update any aspect of it. Members and Friends who are not listed in the current edition should use the form to create an entry by the end of March at the latest.

Year Book updates

Update the Guild Year Book with the new job, location and contact details noted here, as well as any new member listings below. Earlier updates can be found in the eAlerts Archive section of the Guild website.

AHDB communications executive Caroline Slay has left the levy funded body to work from home as a freelance. She can be reached by new email address:

Guild member Ross Muir is retiring as press officer of the Royal Highland Show; the role has been taken on by his colleague and fellow Guild member Judith O'Leary, who has worked on the show account for some years, so is familiar with the event. The media centre on the show website is currently being updated and media information, photos, logos and press accreditation will be available for download in due course. Judith also handles corporate affairs for the Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland but Ross will continue to edit the RHASS members' magazine The Review.

New Members and Friends

People involved in the agricultural industry who would like to establish or maintain links with the Guild and its Members but who do not qualify for membership themselves can become a Friend to receive eAlerts, attend events and be listed in the Year Book.

The Guild is delighted to welcome the following new Members:   Maureen Hodges, Farming & Rural Affairs Editor, Cumbrian Newspapers, PO Box 7, Newspaper House, Dalston Road, Carlisle, Cumbria CA2 5UA. Tel: 01228 612221. Mobile: 07972 685728. Email:

Jason Pole, Communications Executive, HGCA, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwicks CV8 2TL. Tel: 02476 478719. Mobile: 07590 183539. Email:   Leo Townsend, Technical Communications Executive, HGCA, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwicks CV8 2TL. Tel: 02476 478756. Mobile: 07805 807165 Email:

Gemma Pamment, Communications Assistant, HGCA, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwicks CV8 2TL. Tel: 02476 478716. Email:

Alison Mann, Journalist, The Scottish Farmer, 200 Renfield Street, Glasgow G2 3QB. Tel: 0141 3027729. Mobile: 07793 534552. Email:   Claire Morrison, Communications & Events Manager, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), Rural Centre, West Mains, Ingliston, Newbridge, Midlothian EH28 8NZ. Tel: 0131 4724046. Mobile: 07734 110351. Email:

Caspar van Vark, freelance journalist, 56 Twisden Road, London NW5 1DN. Tel: 0207 4826280. Mobile: 07803 722598. Email:

Emily White, PR Executive and Technical Writer, RqB Ltd, The Mosaic Workshop, Church Road, Jackfield, Ironbridge, Shropshire TF8 7AP. Tel: 01952 881112. Email:

Izzy Whittaker, Editor, The Journal, Holstein UK, Scotsbridge House, Rickmansworth, Herts WD3 3BB. Tel: 01923 695252. Mobile: 07800 860943. Email:

....and these new Friends of the Guild:   Amanda Brown, Director, A2BPR, Stud Farm End, Off Oak Lane, Dacre Banks, Harrogate, Yorkshire HG3 4EN. Tel: 01423 740048. Mobile: 07876 452580. Email:

Carmelo James Garcia-Samuel, freelance journalist, Barn Cottage, Gatsford Road, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire HR9 7JF. Mobile: 07530 224660. Email:

Kate Cross, Product Manager, AHDB DairyCo, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwicks CV8 2TL. Tel: 02476 478686. Mobile: 07966 069557. Email:

Ed Dowding, Sustaination, Farthing Corner, West Tytherley, Salisbury, Wilts SP5 1NR. Tel: 07775 791814 Email:

Susan McKay BVM&S, MRCVS, MBA, Companion Consultancy, Suite 4, 113 Manchester House, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP33 IHP. Tel: 01284 761107. Mobile: 07887 515870. Email:

Sarah Hadfield, Conference Manager, Terrapinn Ltd, Wren House, 43 Hatton Garden, London EC1N 8EL. Tel: 0207 092 1157. Email:

.....but we're sorry to say goodbye to:

Former PigWorld editor, Digby Scott, who has decided to step down from the Guild upon retiring from the industry. He says: “I am grateful for the existence of the Guild over the years but the time has come for a break as my life will now take on a completely new direction – and I can't wait!”

David Royle

Retired Farmers Weekly sub Jim Evans, who keeps an interested eye on Guild matters, reports the passing last October of his friend David Royle who worked with him on The Grower in the 1980s. The former Guild member was a horticulture journalist and, says Jim, a great practical joker: “We played some atrocious tricks on other farming and horticultural journals in the ‘70s and ‘80s,” he admits. An obituary posted by David Royle’s family records that before becoming seriously ill last year he was a great walker and knew the paths, fields and trees for many miles around Clacton.

News on the Guild website

Dates agreed for training course

Farm journalists’ network website

New member: Jason Pole

Change of magazine for Liz Wright

New Member: Izzy Whittaker

New PR accounts for Kendalls

Guild members flock to Brussels

Send in your news 

Please send any career news, publication/website launches or redesigns, agency appointments, award wins and campaigns, etc, to website and eAlerts editor Peter Hill.


Johann Tasker

01206 263807


Join Us!

Click here to view Guild membership benefits and to find out how to join.

Guild News

Click here for the latest news.