British Guild of Agricultural Journalists
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BGAJ eAlert - May 2013

New Guild vice-chairman

At the first Guild Council meeting taken by new chairman Jane Craigie, long-serving Council member Howard Venters was elected vice-chairman of the Guild. “Howard has been involved in the Guild for many years and has been a very active member and supporter of the Guild's activities,” says Jane who proposed his election. Howard has been an enthusiastic organiser of the Guild’s renowned Harvest Service at St Brides and a generous sponsor of the splendid choir through his Shepherd Publishing livestock magazine business in Malvern. He is also co-chairman of the IFAJ Congress 2014 organising committee and, as marketing/events secretary on Council, co-organiser of the Guild’s Harvest Lunch.

Large-scale farming debate

Guild member Amy Jackson of Oxtale PR is taking part in a British Society of Animal Science conference on the issues concerning large-scale livestock production. The two-day event Does Big Mean Bad? at the Roslin Institute, Edinburgh University on Thursday/Friday 23/24 May will explore whether farmers, policy-makers and consumers should be looking to large-scale systems to secure sustainable, safe and affordable food supplies. Amy is completing a Nuffield Scholarship on the topic – see News on the Guild website.

NOAH winners

Congratulations to the winners of the Guild’s 2012 animal health and welfare journalism awards, generously sponsored as ever by NOAH and presented at the organisation’s annual dinner. To find out who won, visit the NOAH award page on the Guild website!

Photography Award launched

The Guild’s Photography Award is re-launched today with two categories for published images offering £500 winner and £250 runner-up prizes, plus the President’s Trophy for the best image overall. The Livestock category is sponsored by JG Animal Health, the Arable category by Safagrow. Watch out for the dedicated Award eAlert giving full details – and start rifling through favourite images ready for the May 24 deadline.

Student Friends

Full-time students studying a relevant course in agriculture or journalism can become a Friend of the Guild for up to three years for just £10 annually. Student contact with the Guild is already encouraged through the annual training award that Steve Mitchell organises with the support of John Deere. But after Midlands branch members made a presentation at Harper Adams and enquiries for help came from a student on a journalism course, Council agreed that special provision should be made. Youngsters on courses can now have the same benefits as Friends but for a lower fee.

Training award applications

Aspiring communicators – or those in a job for less than 12 months – still have time to apply for a place on the Guild’s Training Award scheme, sponsored and hosted by John Deere. Applications to Steve Mitchell of ASM PR close May 24 so please point potential candidates to the course information here.

Events in June

The popular Bangers ’n’ Beer gathering at the Cereals Event will be held on the first evening (June 12) from 5pm and the Scottish branch is planning another of its memorable buffet receptions at the Royal Highland Show on June 20. All Members and Friends of the Guild are welcome to meet and mingle at both.

Feedback needed

Members and Friends who attend the Great Yorkshire Show have the prospect of a pleasant lunch gathering – but only if there is sufficient interest in such an event. Regulars at the Great Yorkshire – please send a quick email to events secretary Howard Venters to say whether or not you would attend and which day would be best.

Other events

Don’t forget to note the dates of other Guild events being held this year – early evening receptions at the Livestock Show and the Royal Welsh Show in July; and the Harvest Service and Harvest Lunch in October. See Dates & Deadlines on the Guild website home page for details.

International opportunities

Being a Member or Friend of the Guild brings numerous opportunities for travel to explore aspects of agriculture and rural development. This month, Roger Trewhella, a Friend of the Guild, attends the European Network of Agricultural Journalists (ENAJ) meeting in Dublin, which coincides with the informal Council of agriculture ministers and will provide an insight into Irish agriculture and latest angles on CAP reform.

In August, new Jake Davies of Poultry World and a new Member of the Guild travels to Sao Paulo for the Brazilian Poultry Conference. His trip, as a guest of the Brazilian association of poultry producers, follows an approach to the Guild through the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ). He will get to visit factories and production units in the country, which is the World’s biggest exporter or poultry meat.

Africa study tour – deadline May 31

Journalist Members of the Guild have a chance to report on agriculture and rural development in Uganda in November as part of a group of just 15 journalists from around the World.

The media visit is a follow up to the Kenya tour last year, which proved a very fruitful visit for Chris McCullough of FarmWeek, which he describes here.

Dairy, fruit and vegetable, coffee, tobacco and fish production are on the agenda this time, together with meetings with government representatives and local agricultural journalists. Several “wonderful and unforgettable” locations in the Ugandan countryside are also promised in the promotional flyer

Arranged by the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) through Dutch agricultural development agency Agriterra and the AgriCord alliance of similar agencies, the visit involves a €300 (£250) fee but otherwise all expenses are covered once in the capital city, Entebbe. Return flights from Glasgow, Manchester and London Heathrow are currently available from £450 to £750.

The Guild will nominate a delegate and reserve from& application forms received by Friday, May 31; places will be confirmed in early July by the IFAJ organiser who emphasises that participants must meet reporting obligations.

IFAJ Congress 2014 plans

Two specific roles for the Big Event in September next year – the IFAJ Congress 2014 being organised by the British Guild – need to be filled; one is to plan and oversee the registration process for delegates and the other is to define and deliver professional development opportunities for participants.

“We already have a number of Guild volunteers handling the pre- and post-Congress programmes, the main event itself, and things like social media, hospitality, logistics and leadership for the visits programme, either individually or as part of a small committee,” says co-chairman, Adrian Bell. “But we do need volunteers to handle these other roles from among Members and Friends to ensure we deliver an effective and enjoyable Congress.”

The event effectively comprises three parts, with two intensive and informative visit programmes for 30-40 delegates either side of the three-day Congress itself for 200+ participants.

The pre- and post-Congress programmes are being crafted now, with the aim of providing some great story opportunities that emphasise the Congress theme – Innovations from a Small Island. Plans for the London-based pre-Congress programme, for example, include visits to the Leckford Estate of major sponsor Waitrose and Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank.

Early morning calls to London’s famous New Spitalfields, Billingsgate and Smithfield wholesale markets are also planned, with a City Farm visit and Defra briefing also on the cards. There will also be some rest and recuperation time for delegates during a lunch time river trip, Livery dinner and theatre outing.

There are now just 10 months to go until bookings are due to open and only 16 months until the event itself. So, any Guild Member or Friend who would like to contribute ideas, have useful contacts or can help secure cash or in-kind sponsorship for visits, transportation, meals and delegate materials – please step forward now!

Charitable Trust 200 Club

The  Charitable Trust 200 Club is an important fund-raiser for the Guild’s own charity, which supports Members past and present, and their families, with practical and cash support when facing hard times. The 200 Club is now in need of support itself in the shape of someone to administer and promote it. The chairman of Trustees, Stephen Howe, asks for a volunteer from among Members to handle the twice-yearly computer prize draw and promote sales of the £10 annual shares, as well as of the Trust’s aims and objectives generally. Please step forward for this one too……

IFAJ Star Award entry

A comprehensive explanation and study of Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) from Crops magazine has been selected as the Guild’s nominated entry for the IFAJ Sar Prize for written journalism. CTF is a means of running the majority of tractors and other farm vehicles along the same wheelings to minimise soil compaction; it is popular in Australia but thanks to the increased size of combines, sprayers, spreaders, cultivators, drills and other implements used on large arable farms, the technique is now being adopted in Britain.

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.

The livestock desk at Farmers Weekly needs a new livestock reporter or deputy livestock editor – the appointment is dependent upon the successful candidate’s experience. The role involves providing good copy to Farmers Weekly and its specialist Dairy Update supplement, and to the FWiwebsite.

Spain’s Grupo Asis Biomedia wants to appoint an English-speaking marketing and communications specialist.

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.

Gordon Angell has moved house to Meadowcroft, 72 Mayfield Road, Ipswich, Suffolk IP4 3NG. His telephone number is now 01473 414533 but his email remains as published in the Year Book.

Peter Crowe and Geoff Dodgson have a new business address and telephone number as a result of an office move: Ware Anthony Rust, 1 Brooklands Avenue, Cambridge CB2 8BB. Tel: 01223 272800. Email and mobile numbers are unaffected.

Sarah Palmer has left her role as agriculture and rural affairs officer with National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs. News of her future role soon.

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…..

Anna Farrell, Head of Communications, AHDB – HGCA, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwicks CV8 2TL. Tel: 0247 6478714 Mobile: 07887 935805 Email

Carole Youngs, freelance, The Smallholder Series, Green Farm, Blackwells End, Hartpury, Glos GL1 3DB. Tel: 01452 700463 Mobile: 07774 958147 Email

Philippa Spackman, Communications Manager, Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI), 27 West Way, Oxford OX2 OQH. Tel: 01865 811581 Mobile: 07730 765377 Email

William Howell, Media Relations Executive, NFU Mutual, Tiddington Road, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwicks CV37 7BJ. Tel: 01789 202709 Mobile: 07972 374071 Email

Michael Priestley, Editor, The, 8 Smithy Wood Drive, Sheffield S35 1QN. Tel: 01234 818180 Mobile: 0755 2924592 Email

James Rickard, Machinery Editor, Farmers Guardian, Unit 4 Caxton Road, Fulwood, Preston, Lancs PR2 9NZ. Tel: 01772 799496 Mobile: 07795 521512 Email

and a new Friend of the Guild…..

Simon Haley, Rural Business Consultant, Reading Agricultural Consultants, 17 Aldwych Drive, Ashton, Preston, Lancs PR2 1SJ. Mobile: 07783 103951 Email Also founder and co-host of AgriChatUK on twitter.

Joe Firmin

Long-time Guild stalwart Joe Firmin, who died in March, was a journalist of the 'old school', says Peter Ryder, who worked on Farmers Weekly and with the NFU press office. He was a keen naturalist and wrote a countryside column for his local press until fairly recently.

On the Guild website….

A new entry added to the Industry Events Calendar (click the Events tab) is a seminar on CAP reform being staged by Westminster Forum Projects in July. The event has attracted some topline speakers, including Gwilym Jones representing EU agri commissioner Ciolos; NFU president Peter Kendall; George Lyon MEP; and Defra’s Martin Nesbitt, director of EU and International Agriculture. Use the website link in the calendar listing for full details.

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


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