British Guild of Agricultural Journalists
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BGAJ eAlert - February 2016

Guild website redevelopment

Over the coming months, the Guild is hoping to redevelop its website to make using it a more engaging experience for Members. We also hope to make it easier for members to share news and other items across social media.

The website and eAlerts are the primary way of communicating with members and the aim is to make using the Guild website more enjoyable for everyone to use, while also raising the profile of the Guild with the wider world.

Simple improvements are likely to include a more legible font and better navigation. But we would also like to make the website easier to use on Android and iOS tablets as well as on mobile phones.

We would also like to reiterate that our goal is to transfer all existing content to the new website, so everything is retained and nothing is lost.

At the moment, we are in the planning stage and we would like to invite Members to suggest any features and additional functionality that you might like to see included in the new website.

We cannot promise to implement all requests because we have a limited budget. But please do suggest features that you would like to see included by emailing Johann Tasker.

Annual meeting attendance

Further to our recent eAlert highlighting the Guild's forthcoming Annual Meeting on 17 March, we would like to clarify that only lunch is limited to 30 people on a first come, first served basis.

The meeting itself is open to all Members and is a great opportunity for networking and to learn more about Guild activities. Friends and Retired Members of the Guild are also invited to attend but are not permitted to cast a vote for elections or motions.

To attend, please email Guild secretary Nikki Robertson indicating whether you wish to attend the annual meeting and the lunch - and also whether you would like to attend the special visit afterwards to the 'Tractors Through Time' exhibition at nearby Coventry Transport Museum from 2.30-4pm.

For full details about the 2016 Annual Meeting, please click here.

Calling all freelance journalists

The Guild is considering the establishment of a freelance journalists sub-group and is interested in hearing from any self-employed members who would be keen to be an active part of such a group.

The group would aim to meet once or twice a year, to allow our freelance journalist members to share information and benefit from each other’s expertise, while also exploring personal and professional development opportunities.

If you would be interested in joining such a group, or have any ideas about its development, please contact either Caroline Stocks or Louise Impey by email. Depending on the response, there may be an opportunity to hold an informal exploratory session at the Guild’s Annual Meeting on 17 March.

Radio journalists wanted

BBC Radio 4 is looking to extend its pool of freelance radio producers and journalists for its Farming Today programme. There are increasing opportunities for freelancers to do regular production shifts on the programme.

Rural Affairs & Environment Editor Dimitri Houtart is keen to hear from experienced (radio) journalists and /or producers who are within commuting distance from the BBC Rural Affairs unit based in Bristol.

There are opportunities for freelancers to do production shifts (TX producer) and planning shifts (planning producer). An interest in rural affairs is useful but journalistic flair and the ability to see what will make a story is crucial.

At this point, Dimitri says he is collecting CVs and will make contact with freelancers with the most relevant experience. Farming Today is the leading rural affairs programme on BBC Radio 4 and reaches around one million listeners during the week.

For further details, contact Dimitri at

Deadlines imminent

Members are reminded that the deadline for entries to the Guild’s Stuart Seaton Regional Newspaper/Journalist Award is Monday (29 February).

The deadline for entries to the IFAJ Star Prize Awards and IFAJ Rabobank Digital Media Award is Tuesday (1 March).

Is your title listed?

Is the magazine you publish or work on listed in the Guild's Farming Media Centre directory? And what about the website or television broadcast or radio programme you help produce?

The Farming Media Centre directory aims to provide brief details and contacts information for all publications covering agriculture, horticulture and other rural enterprises - including specialist magazines and local newspapers with a farming column or supplement. The same goes for websites and broadcasts.

If there is a title missing or details need correcting, please contact Peter Hill.

Choose your IFAJ webinar topic

The IFAJ is planning another webinar following the success of last year's on professional development. This time, the plan is to tap into IFAJ sponsor Rabobank's experienced research team so that a Rabobank analyst can share the bank's latest research into a key agricultural topic and help members the British Guild and other IFAJ member organisations in creating stories or understanding underlying issues.

A poll is running on the IFAJ's Facebook page with potential topics, including the market represented by China, trends in animal protein, sustainability trends in agriculture, World developments in cold chains, worldwide developments in aquaculture, and Rabobank's new tool analysing global trends in grains and oilseeds trading. There is also a section for alternative topic suggestions.

To help choose the topic of most interest, contribuite to the poll here.

New Members and Friends

To invite colleagues and industry contacts to consider joining the Guild, point them to the website page here, where the benefits are set out and a leaflet is available to download. There is also a link to online membership application and subscription Direct Debit forms. Subscription rates for 2016 are unchanged from last year at £72 for Members and Friends, £36 for Retired Members and Student Friends.

The Guild is delighted to welcome the following new Members:

Brian Henderson, Freelance Journalist, Wester Clevage Farm, Dunning, Perth PH2 9BZ. Tel: 01764 684594 Mobile: 07867 780988 Email:

Sarah Jones, Communications Adviser, NFU Cymru, Agriculture House, Llanelwedd, Builth Wells, Powys LD2 3TU. Tel: 01982 554200. Mobile: 07860 423299 Email: Twitter: @nfucymru Website:

Ruth Rees, Ruth Rees Photography, Upper Bwlch, Rhayader, Powys LD6 5NT. Tel: 01597 811851 Mobile: 07927 614163 Email: Website:

But we say goodbye to...

Nigel Ellway, because he is no longer working as a journalist or in agriculture, and Emily White, who is taking some time out from her Silver Birch Communications business having recently had a baby - Congratulations!

Jobs & Recruitment

Vacant positions are mentioned in Guild eAlerts as a service to members but a recruitment advertising service is also available to organisations keen to attract talent from among the ranks of the Guild membership involved in journalism and commercial communications. More details about this service are available on the website or can be obtained by contacting Peter Hill.

A new post at Briefing Media Agriculture - Senior Arable Specialist - needs to be filled by someone with a keen interest in arable crop production to contribute editorial content to Farmers Guardian, Arable Farming, and the CropTec event. Details here.

Member contacts update

Updates on new job, location and contact details are noted below. Earlier updates can be found in the eAlerts Archive section of the Guild website accessed via the Member Communications tab.

PR and media manager Angharad Evans of RDP Advertising & Marketing is now Angharad Belcher after getting married - congratulations! Angharad can be contacted using her new email address. Her other contact details remain unchanged.

Former Friend of the Guild when chief executive of the National Association of Agricultural Contractors, Jill Hewitt has re-joined as a Member having set-up her own communications, project management and lobbying agency. She can be contacted at: Springtime Consultancy, East View, Main Road, Tallington, Lincs PE9 4RP. Tel: 07889 511245 Email:

Freelance writer and journalist David Jones has moved from Worcestershire to Wiltshire. His postal address is now: 28 Back Hill, Malmesbury, Wiltshire SN16 9BT. Tel: 01666 824678. Mobile: 07530 109836. Email:

The postal address for Martin Looker, PR/Media consultant specialising in pigs, poultry and animal health and welfare at BHR Communications, is not as stated in the Yearbook, which is BHR's central address. Martin's is: Middle Orchard, Lower Layham, Ipswich, Suffolk IP7 5NB. The telephone number and email address are correct.

Cumbria-based livestock freelance Jennifer Mackenzie has ditched her landline in favour of a mobile service: 07977 397258.

Livestock freelance and CowManagement editor Rachael Porter can be reached via her new email address.

Recent Guild membership recruit Jane Richards has left MDS, the management training organisation for the food and fresh produce industry, to work freelance, providing an editing service, while working on her second novel. She can be reached at: 2 Bushey Close, Conington Fen, Peterborough PE7 3QE. Tel: 01487 832476 Mobile: 07803 370330 Email:

The landline phone number for journalist, broadcaster and recent British Empire Medal recipient Alan Stennett is 01526 352703, which is slighty different from that published in the new Yearbook. Alternatively, he can be reached on his 07976 548157 mobile number.

Members and Friends of the Guild - you can make any changes your contact details and information about any services you provide by updating membership profiles on the Guild website. This will ensure up to date details are displayed on the Farming Media Centre web page and in the next edition of the Yearbook. If you have not previously logged in to the website, follow the instructions available here.

On the Guild website…

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

On the Guild Facebook page....

The Guild Facebook page includes updates and photos of interest to Guild Members, including Guild-related news from other websites. To take a look, visit

BGAJ Charitable Trust

What the trust can 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 on 01342 893018 or email.

What you can 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.

Members and Friends who take part in a charitable fund-raising event – 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 for your efforts from among the Guild membership.

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

News 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 Johann Tasker.


Contact Guild secretary Nikki Robertson if you wish 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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