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Canadian farm writers prepare to welcome the world to Alberta & More Breaking News

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Written by enews

It is a big job welcoming journalists from across the world and the co-chairs of the Canadian planning committee, Annemarie Pedersen, Trevor Bach, and Cole Christiansen are up for the task.

“We’ve got a good committee together of leads doing things like transportation and hotels and being a really good professional development committee organized and sponsorship committee,” Pedersen told farmnewsNOW. “We really have a lot of the groundwork done and the right people in place, and now we have to cross our T’s and dot our I’s.”

Besides giving members the chance to take in the Calgary Stampede, Olds is the centre of agricultural development on the prairies, she said, so the location was an obvious choice.

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“Olds College is doing some amazing things on the research and innovation front. They have their smart farm and there’s so much going on there right now whether it’s in livestock or crop, technology, you name it, they’re doing it.”

If it’s new and innovative and challenging what farming has looked like in the past 200 years on the prairies, these international journalists will get a sense of what is coming out of Canada, she said.

And there is no shortage of issues that agriculture journalists are trying to tackle right now.

Europe is further ahead in climate solutions, said Pedersen, especially with its former host, Denmark. However, the questions are the same around the world.

“How do we talk about the benefits of livestock production? How do we talk about sequestration? How do we talk about what happens in the environment when animals graze this land and the kind of benefits that are coming and how do you give farmers credit for that?”

Journalists and agriculture professionals cannot have these discussions right now without talking about climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, or changing practices to be solutions rather than problems, she said. The agriculture industry is a huge driver in those discussions.

“Most of agriculture recognizes they have a part to play in reducing emissions but also in helping to offset and mitigate issues that are happening globally through industry and through other outlets. It’s not all about agriculture as the bad guy.”

While journalists meet to discuss these issues and share possible solutions that are working in their country, professional development is another focus of the congress.

Owen Roberts is a former IFAJ president and is currently a faculty member of the University of Illinois’s Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications program.

Being a long-time member of IFAJ, the congresses have been a great opportunity for journalists and communicators to see a country beyond tourism, Roberts told farmnewsNOW.

Now others will have that opportunity to see Alberta in that light.

“I think the impact will be significant on journalists who are really interested in knowing what’s going on in Canada. In Canada, we’re very good at presenting externally an image of this clean, green, pristine environment. And I think it’d be great for people to witness it themselves.”

Everything starts with a story, said Roberts, and things like policy change start with a single story of success by a producer in another country.

Journalists and communicators take that and share that story with the world, from stories about producers to producers who then take those stories to decision-makers and stakeholders. This is knowledge mobilization, said Roberts.

“We’ve seen a lot with fertilizer tariffs. Canadian producers are very aware of situations that appear to be unfair to them and it’s not only through the media that they learn about them, but the media is certainly one way that they do.”

While the main congress will be held in Alberta, pre- and post-congress tours will give participants additional opportunities to see other parts of Western Canada, including a trip to Vancouver.

Freelance agricultural reporter, Myrna Leader, has ties to local and national farm writers guides in Canada and has attended many congresses at the international level. One of the first things she asks herself before a congress is why should people in Canada or B.C. care about what is going on in another country.

“You can relate everything back that we’ve heard about sustainability and climate. I don’t think Canada is as far along, so it’s a bit of a challenge. What am I going to write that’s gonna matter?”

Our audience isn’t just politicians, she told farmnewsNOW, and there are many stakeholders in this game. The vast IFAJ network helps stories reach agricultural partners.

More information about next year’s congress can be found on the IFAJ website.

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