British Guild of Agricultural Journalists
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BGAJ eAlert - March 2017

New VAT rules come into effect

Significant changes to the government's flat rate VAT scheme will have big implications for some Guild Members when they come into effect on Saturday, 1 April.

The rule changes affect flat-rate-scheme registered service providers who spend a low proportion of their turnover on physical goods.

Among the businesses and individuals most affected are VAT registered freelance journalists, photographers and PR consultants.

These "limited cost traders" now face paying a higher flat rate percentage of VAT, as explained in the government leaflet here.

Guild Members who haven't yet done so are advised to read the leaflet carefully and seek advice from a suitably qualified accountant where they feel doing so is appropriate. 

Video training and research opportunity

A training morning on video production and an opportunity to discover some of the current research and resources at Rothamsted will be held on Thursday, 4 May as part of the Guild's annual meeting programme.

The event starts is for Members and Friends who book a place for the training session and for Guild directors attending a management Council meeting.

Everyone can then participate in the annual general meeting to discover more about Guild activities and opportunities before taking in the Rothamsted presentation and tour.

Watch for full details in a dedicated eAlert next week.

Crisis management for communicators

Rothamsted is also the venue for a one-day crisis and issues management seminar for communicators specialising in agriculture and food production.

Experts from the fields of crisis management, science and journalism will explore the issues around communication when faced with controversial, disruptive and complex technologies.

The seminar is called STEM under the microscope: Communicating the big issues. It takes place on Tuesday, 23 May. For details, click here.

O'Leary PR enlarges as Represent

Communications agency O’Leary PR – headed by Guild Member Judith O'Leary – has expanded, adopted a new name and moved to Edinburgh. Read more.

BGAJ Nepal earthquake appeal bears fruit

An appeal fund set up by the Guild has seen its first results nearly two years after the Nepal earthquake cost the lives of 10,000 people. Read more.

Obituary: Janice Harland

Janice Harland, a long-standing Member of the Guild, has passed away after a short battle against cancer. Read more.

Obituary: Richard Saunders

Richard Saunders, the former news editor of Farming News and Farmers Weekly, and an enthusiastic Member of the Guild, has died. Read more.

Guild training courses open during 2017

Four short training courses covering various aspects of communication are being made available by the Guild over the coming months. Read more.

Obituary: Louis K Flood

Former Member of the Guild, freelance photographer Louis Flood senior, has died at the age of 84. Read more.

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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:

Paul Caunce, Publishing Editor, 500 Blackpool Road, Newton with Scales, Preston, Lancashire PR4 3RE Mobile: 07501 216651 Email: Website:

Role at Work: Publisher of agricultural machinery news and video websites, and organiser of the Agri Machinery Trade Excellence Awards. Why you want to join: To develop myself, my network of contacts, and my skills and professional development.

Sam Conway, Communications Manager, The Farming Community Network, Manor Farm, Guilsborough Road, West Haddon, Northampton NN6 7AQ. Tel: 01788 510866 Mobile: 07788 974281 Email: Website:

Role at Work: I run the communications and PR for The Farming Community Network (FCN), a charity that supports members of the farming community during difficult times. Why you want to join: To make contacts with potential new supporters who can help raise the profile of FCN within the agricultural industry.

Charles Macdowell, PR and Marketing Consultant, Land Communication, Top Floor, 19 Princes Street, Ipswich, Suffolk IP1 1PH Tel: 01473 353613 Mobile: 07788 755300 Email: Website:

Role at Work: Director of Land Communications, an integrated agency providing PR, advertising, design and strategic services to clients in agriculture and other B2B sectors. Why you want to join:For networking and cross-referral with fellow Members, and IFAJ connections.

Rebecca Rainnie, Marketing Co-ordinator, Harbro Limited, Markethill Industrial Estate, Markethill Road, Turriff, Aberdeenshire AB53 4PA Tel: 01888 545215 Email: Website:

Role at Work: Working in the marketing department, responsible for putting together internal newletters, writing press releases and helping to organise the company’s presence at events such as agricultural shows. Why you want to join: To widen my knowledge further in the PR and journalism world and to meet new contacts that will benefit my knowledge and the company's recognition.

...but we say goodbye to retired member David Thomasson, who writes: "I have reached a stage in life and in retirement when I feel I should stop my membership. I made my last Farming Outlooktelevision programme for ITV Tyne Tees over 30 years ago but I have maintained an active interest in rural affairs and it has sometimes been frustrating to have stopped informing farmers and the general public about the business of producing food.

"Farming is such an amazing industry which, of course, is about to face so many new challenges because of Brexit. I wish you all the very best with your excellent work supporting agricultural journalism."

And also Mervyn Bailey, joint editor of Profi International, who has returned to his native Ireland.

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.

Find details of all posts here.

Member contacts update

Members and Friends of the Guild are reminded to update their profiles on the Guild website with any changes of address or telephone number, or any services provided.

This will ensure that information displayed on the Farming Media Centre web page and in the next edition of the Yearbook is accurate and up to date. If you have not previously logged in to the website, follow the instructions 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.

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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