British Guild of Agricultural Journalists
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BGAJ eAlert - February 2015

Annual meeting registrations

Members and Friends of the Guild have been registering their intention to take part in the annual meeting on Friday, March 13 at NIAB's Park Farm site on the outskirts of Cambridge.

Apart from being an important business meeting for the Guild, when Members elect directors and their representatives to the management Council, the event will be an enjoyable and informative networking opportunity, and a chance to hear about the work of NIAB, the role of NIAB Innovation Farm, and research projects such as the 'superwheat' programme.

Morning refreshments, drinks and a buffet lunch are being laid on by sponsor Massey Ferguson, so please register with Guild secretary Nikki Robertson by Thursday, March 5 to help finalise catering.

Guild council recruits

The Guild’s management Council will have a new look after the annual meeting in March, with a new chairman taking over the reins and four new directors taking their seats.

Ben Briggs, news and business editor on Farmers Guardian, has been nominated as chairman. If elected, he would take over from Jane Craigie who will have completed an exceptional two years in the role, not only guiding the Council in dealing with day-to-day Guild affairs but also being heavily involved in organising the IFAJ Congress in Britain last year.

Long-serving Council members Liz Snaith (membership secretary) and Peter Hill (website and eAlerts editor) have to step down under Guild rules; they can stand for election in 12 months' time if they wish.

Treasurer Tim Price has decided to retire from this role and leave Council after several years of being in charge of the books, and Howard Venters, events secretary and deputy chairman, is also stepping down - but will continue to organise the Harvest Service at St Brides having taken the event to a new level and achieved a significant increase in attendance in recent years.

Jane Craigie, Adrian Bell (IFAJ and ENAJ representative), Simon Haley (treasurer elect) and Clive Rainbird (Charitable Trust liaison) are continuing on Council. Awards secretary Louise Impey and CPD secretary Julie Mate, who has developed a successful programme of training workshops for Guild members, are standing for re-election to Council.

They look set to be joined by a new influx of Council members: freelance Olivia Cooper, AgriTrade News editor Jamie Day, Catherine Linch of Pinstone Communications and news freelance Johann Tasker have all been nominated to become directors and join the 11-person Council.

The Council will be supported in its work by a new President of the Guild: Ewen, Lord Cameron of Dillington, who extended the normal three-year term to five years to provide continuity while the Congress was being staged, is stepping down having provided wise advice and been enormously generous with his time and support for the Guild.

Lord Curry of Kirkhale has agreed to stand for election as the Guild's new President.

Charitable Trust annual meeting

Members and Friends of the Guild are welcome to attend the Charitable Trust annual meeting at 12 noon on Thursday, March 12 at The Farmers Club, 3 Whitehall Court, London.

The Trustees of the Guild's own charity provide practical and financial help as appropriate to members and their families who face difficulties through ill-health, redundancy, old age and other challenges.

Two new Trustees have been appointed: Tessa Bevan, a healthcare professional and daughter of the late Derek Watson, a Member of the Guild and keen supporter of the Charitable Trust. Jeremy Coleclough brings financial management expertise to this role as former owner of farm machinery distributor Opico.


The EU commission's DG-Agri website is used by a number of BGAJ journalist Members for the access to press releases, commentary and other materials relating to agriculture in the EU and the CAP it provides. 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.

Australian Pre-Congress Tour

Australia’s tropical wonderland beckons for all Members and Friends of the Guild planning to head Down Under for IFAJ Congress 2015 in New Zealand. The Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists (ACAJ) is joining with the Rural Press Club of Queensland to put together an enticing Pre-Congress Tour.

There will be a welcome gathering on the evening of October 8 followed by three action packed days, which will include visits to the World Heritage Daintree rainforest and the iconic Great Barrier Reef.

The group will then fly to Sydney on October 12 for a leisurely evening before crossing to New Zealand the next day for IFAJ Congress 2015. Online bookings for this international gathering of rural journalists from around the World will open soon with early-bird discounts.

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 450+ members involved in journalism and commercial communications. More details about this service are available on the website here.

Year Book updates

Update the Guild Year Book with the new job, location and contact details noted here, as well as any new Member and Friend listings below. Earlier updates can be found in the eAlerts Archivesection of the Guild website. Remember to send change of job, address, telephone or email details to Guild secretary Nikki Robertson.

Publication of the 2014/15 Year Book has been deferred but Members and Friends should continue to notify the Guild secretary of any changes (eg home or business address, telephone numbers and email address) needed for the next edition.

Bill Butterworth has formed Recycle-To-Land Research Ltd and writes about the issues related to farming of renewable energy, shale gas and sustainability on his blog at the www.recycletoland.comwebsite.

Lynsey Clark has left her role as business reporter on The Scottish Farmer to work freelance from home at Blackmill Farm, Crossford near Carluke, Midlothian. She can be contacted by mobile 07946 844732 or by email:

Jane King, who ended her roles as Farmers Weekly editor and group editorial director at the end of 2014, has taken up her new post as CEO of the Agricultural & Horticultural Development Board (AHDB). She is based at AHDB, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwickshire CV8 2TL. Tel: 0247 669 2051. Email:

Steve Mitchell has moved his ASM Public Relations firm to pastures new: Office 14, Brewsters Corner, Pendicke Street, Southam, Warwicks CV47 1PN. Tel: 01926 818762 Mobile 07717 213182 and email remain unchanged.

New Members and Friends

Members who would like to invite colleagues and industry contacts to consider joining the Guild can direct them to the Membership Benefits website page here, where a PDF leaflet is available to download. Anyone involved in agriculture who would like to establish or maintain links with the Guild and its Members can become a Friend to receive eAlerts, attend events and be listed in the Year Book.

This month we say Goodbye to…

Long-standing Guild member Mike Evans, who brought many new recruits into the world of agri PR, many of whom went to forge careers as journalists and PR specialists in their own right. Mike is retiring from commercial PR but will continue to run his other business interests.

Likewise, Graham Look, Belgium-based freelance who specialised in animal and fish feeds and livestock farming; Mike Still, former press and PR manager at Ford tractor operations; and John Bolt of BHR Communications fame, all of whom have retired.

On the Guild website….

The Dates & Deadlines panel on the home page gives Guild event details and award application deadlines and access to the full listing of Guild activities through the year.

In News on the Guild website

Guild members collar Commissioner Hogan on DG-Agri trip

NFU Scotland honour for the late Joe Watson

CLA's northern comms manager Daniel Curtois joins the Guild

Anne Chamberlain is Farmers Club new chairman

Georgina Haigh reports on agri-tour in Tanzania

Catherine Linch attends rural leadership course

Strutt & Parker's Fiona Duff joins the Guild

Roger Turff

Sophie Wilesmith joins Guild with agri-food marketing background

James Marshall wins award, gets job, joins the Guild

Jane King joins AHDB as CEO

Mike Donovan visits Danish agri show thanks to ENAJ and the Guild


BGAJ Charitable Trust

What can the trust do for you – or someone you know?

The Guild’s Charitable Trust was set up to help Members of the Guild – of any age – and their partners and families when faced with difficulties or hardship. The Trustees offer confidential practical support and advice, and have funds available to meet short-term needs (such as urgent utility bills in times of financial difficulty) or to help enhance standards of care and treatment in times of ill health or old age.

Members of the Guild who think the trust could help – or who know of fellow Members who could benefit – should contact the chairman of Trustees, Stephen Howe – 01342 893018.

What can you do for the trust?

The financial help that Trustees can offer is determined by annual income from investments, donations and fund-raising initiatives such as the Harvest Lunch prize draw. The 200 Club is an easy and painless way to make an annual donation: shares are just £10 each and subscribers have two chances a year to win up to £250 in cash prizes.

Are you taking part in a charitable fund-raising event? If so, please consider donating some of the funds you raise to your own Charitable Trust – and be sure to let us know what you’re doing so we can encourage support from among the Guild membership.

More information on all aspects of the Charitable Trust is available on the Guild website

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.


Contact the Guild secretary, Nikki Robertson, if you want to: Apply for Retired Member status to pay the reduced subscription Apply to become a Member of the Guild as a Friend who now qualifies for membership Notify a change of bank details for the subscription Direct Debit Notify a change of home or work postal address, telephone numbers or email address Notify that you are resigning from the Guild


Johann Tasker

01206 263807


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