Published on 31st August 2016
Members of the British Guild joined agricultural journalists from across the world to learn about sustainable farming systems at this year’s International Federation of Agricultural Journalists conference in Germany.
Jane Craigie, the Guild’s representative to the IFAJ, freelancers Caroline Stocks (third from left above) and Chris McCullough, Adrian Bell of AgroMavens and Tim Price of NFU Mutual gathered with hundreds of other journalists in Bonn for the four-day event – the 60th in the IFAJ’s history.
The event focused around issues of sustainability in agriculture, and saw officials including Germany’s deputy farm minister, Bonn University vice president Ralf Pude and Bayer chief executive Helmut Schramm talk to delegates about how Germany is addressing the issue.
Attendees also took part in a special sustainability dinner, where they met experts including representatives from the UN’s offices in Bonn to discuss how agricultural industries around the world can work together to tackle food sustainability.
Following the official workshops, delegates were given the chance to visit a variety of businesses in the region during two days of tours, including trips to pig and dairy units, the Claas factory in Harsewinkel, and Bayer’s bee care centre, test site and Forward Farm in Damianshof.
Ahead of the main conference from 13-17 July, Caroline attended a journalism masterclass after winning a place on the IFAJ/Alltech Young Leaders personal development Boot Camp.
As well as going on a series of farm tours, she took part in workshops and training sessions with journalists and communicators from countries including Australia, Norway, Zambia and Nepal.
Caroline said the opportunity to get to the heart of agricultural issues in Germany while sharing experiences and learning from other journalists was unforgettable.
“To get the chance to attend the masterclass and meet such a brilliant group of young journalists was hugely inspiring, and I’ve come home with fresh ideas about how to approach my work and a new sense of enthusiasm about my career,” she said.
“I have to say thanks to the British Guild for selecting me to represent the UK, and to the IFAJ and Alltech for supporting people in the early stages of their career with such a fantastic programme.”
While it was the first time she had attended an IFAJ conference, Caroline said it was clear why so many delegates attend year after year.
“The IFAJ conference offers a fantastic chance to see farming systems you wouldn’t usually get to see, network with people from all over the world, and talk about issues facing our respective industries - all whilst eating some incredible food and seeing amazing scenery.
“I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference in South Africa.”
The event is already yielding plenty of copy for UK guild members, with Caroline writing stories for the Aberdeen Press and Journal on farm diversification, and features on dairy and pork sector sustainability for Farmers Weekly and Voice of Sustainable Pork.
During the conference she was also interviewed for RTE Countrywide by Irish Guild member Damien O’Reilly and for Farm Futures – along with Adrian Bell – by US Guild member Mike Wilson on British agriculture in the wake of Brexit.
Chris McCullough reported on the state of dairying in Germany and the use of robots in fields for agri-press in UK and other international media.