British Guild of Agricultural Journalists
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BGAJ eAlert - March 2014

Annual meeting reports and elections

In her report to the annual meeting, held in Oxford at Jesus College conference centre, Guild chairman Jane Craigie recalled Joe Watson and his contribution to the Guild, reported on progress with switching to online membership records and direct debit management, and highlighted the work involved in preparing for IFAJ Congress 2014, being held in Scotland this September.

Jane's report can be read in the minutes

Treasurer's report and figures

Guild Council full report

With only one nomination received, farm business consultant Simon Haley was elected to represent Members and Friends on the Guild management Council and has been appointed IFAJ Congress 2014 treasurer to oversee the half million pound budget for this event.

Adrian Bell was re-elected to serve another two-year term before he must step down from Council in line with Guild rules, and he takes over as the Guild's representative to the IFAJ executive committee.

The Guild's supportive President, Somerset farmer Lord Cameron of Dillington, was elected for a third year, which will provide continuity while the Guild hosts the Congress. Also, following the retirement of David Meara from St Bride's Church and many years as the Guild chaplain, the Reverend George Pitcher was elected to this post. He is a journalist, author, public relations pioneer and an Anglican priest.

Congress registration opens with a bang!

Agri journalists, broadcasters and commercial communicators around the World have been booking places for IFAJ Congress 2014 at a furious pace.

The 'early bird' bookings - 70 places with £70 off to mark the Guild's 70th anniversary year - we're snapped up within little more than four hours of registration opening. Since then, more than half the 220 places available have been taken - and just as satisfying is that the booking and online payment procedure has so far worked without a hitch.

The congress Innovations from a Small Island is being hosted by the Guild in September this year. For details, see the Congress eAlert here and the event's website.

Congress opportunities

Congratulations to Guild member Alison Mann, news reporter on The Scottish Farmer, for winning a place at the Congress along with nine other young journalists under the IFAJ's Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism awards scheme. Alison will take part in the journalism and leadership skills development Boot Camp immediately before the Congress and will report daily from the event itself.

Guild IAgrE Award deadline

Members writing about the contribution of farm machinery and other aspects of engineering to food or energy production can win up to £750 by entering the Guild's IAgrE Award. The deadline for entries published or broadcast between the beginning of March last year and the end of February this year is Friday, April 11 - full details here.

Guild new entrants training scheme

Bringing new talent to rural journalism and public relations is one of the Guild's greatest success stories thanks to the annual new entrants training scheme. It is organised by Guild member Steve Mitchell of ASM PR and generously sponsored and hosted by John Deere at the company's UK headquarters in Nottinghamshire.

Applications for the 2014 course are open until Saturday, May 2. Any Member or Friend who knows of someone who would benefit from three days of instruction and practical exercise plus a work placement with a magazine or PR agency should direct them to the Guild website page or contact Steve Mitchell.

Cereals Event press office experience

Newly appointed Haymarket Events marketing manager Sarah Peacocke, a Member of the Guild, is looking for two people to help run the press office at the Cereals Event on June 11/12 at Chrishall Grange near Duxford Air Museum in Cambridgeshire, and help set up on the day before.

"This is a unique opportunity for two potential entrants into the agricultural communications community - they will be working alongside me, and our PR consultant, Robert Harris," explains Sarah. "It's an unpaid job; we will feed them and provide a subsistence allowance but there is no accommodation available." However, it will give them some invaluable experience, Sarah points out, and the successful candidates will be invited to attend the Guild's popular Bangers 'n' Beer networking event on the early evening of the first day.

Candidates should contact Sarah by Tuesday, April 15 telling her something about their experience and PR aspirations.

Marathon run to support cancer charity

Norfolk-based Guild member Jo Palmer, whose Prime Contact Communications agency provides PR, copywriting and business research services in the agrochemicals and arable crops sector, is delighted that her son James is supporting Cancer Research UK when he runs the London Marathon for the first time in April.

It's a cause dear to her heart because Jo and her husband Richard, an independent agronomist, have both been fighting cancer for over a year.

"My parents' story is testament to two central factors in fighting a disease like cancer," says James. "First, the need for an impressively inspiring motivation to fight against the hand which they have been dealt, and second, the impact of research in fighting cancer.

"Dad is steadily improving from advanced prostate cancer following weeks of chemotherapy, and Mum is now free of a rare form of the disease called a sarcoma but had to have her right leg amputated."

Jo says: "We are so proud and pleased that James has decided to run for this wonderful charity and also delighted that a number of a Guild members have already pledged their support. We feel so supported by our clients and colleagues – what a lovely, lovely bunch of people we work with; we feel so very privileged to work in agriculture."

Visit James' Virgin Money Giving page to make a donation.

Update 12/04/2014: Sadly, Richard Palmer's health deteriorated rapidly and he died in hospital with Jo and other members of his family present on the morning of Saturday, April 12. James plans to run the 2015 London Marathon in his father's memory.

International news

The IFAJ has dropped its monthly e-newsletter in favour of regularly posting news stories to its website and highlighting them via Twitter and Facebook, reports US-based editor Karlie Elliot-Bowman. Members can receive direct notification of news posts by becoming a 'newsletter subscriber' on the IFAJ website.

Fields of gold feature

LandScape magazine would like to commission a freelance article on the wheat crop, its history, agronomy and the harvesting process. The bi-monthly publication 'celebrates the joy of the garden, simple seasonal recipes, traditional British crafts and the wonder of nature and the countryside' according to its website.

Deputy editor Claire Williams suggests starting with a descriptive paragraph setting the scene of fields of wheat straw carpeting the countryside in July and August before describing the history of the crop; when it came to Britain and started being grown on a large scale for food.

"I would also like to see a wheat grain and all its component parts described in detail, the characteristics of different varieties and what they are used for, and how techniques for growing the crop, in terms of crop rotation, management and specialised machinery have evolved," she says. "I'd also like a description of the wheat harvesting process from start to finish, and to have a pictorial illustration of the wheat plant's journey from sowing to harvest."

Contact Claire at LandScape magazine on 01733 468591 or 07841 373368 or by email.

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 your copy of 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 Archive section of the Guild website. Remember to send change of job, address, telephone or email details to Guild secretary Nikki Robertson.

Freelance photographer Tim Scrivener has a new business email address and a new website – – containing 13,000 images (yes, thirteen thousand!) all searchable with keywords hidden in them. “It's going well, with new clients buying on a regular basis,” he says.

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.

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

Liz Wright enthralled by Ugandan adventure Veteran reporter Maureen signs on with the Guild Twitter site @FarmersOfTheUK gains momentum Joe Watson Getting on farms is a PR-plus for Lauren Goringe Guild course for budding journalists

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 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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