By Steffanie Costigan
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
For the first time ever, the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) hosted their annual global World Congress in Alberta last month with meetings in Calgary and Olds.
The IFAJ is a global organization of professional communicators and journalists covering more than 50 countries which embrace freedom of the press.
Jessika Guse, one of the three co-chairs of IFAJ, shared the support journalists and communicators gain within the IFAJ.
“IFAJ is an international organization that supports journalists from around the world, whether that be through farm tour learning, professional development, communication strategies, friendship, networking, jobs, you name it, it’s kind of a one-stop shop for all things,” said Guse.
The IFAJ congress event in Alberta hosted approximately over 200 journalists from 31 different countries around the world. Guse noted how IFAJ hosts its congress in different countries each year, giving opportunities to learn more about agriculture.
“Every year is a new country. So last year, we were in Denmark; the year before that it was Minneapolis. In 2023 we’re obviously in Canada. Next year, we’re in Switzerland. And the year after that we’re in Kenya. So, it really gives the opportunity for agriculture journalists to see how agriculture journalism plays out and how different farming practices are in different regions.”
The conference began in Calgary with IFAJ meetings. After the meetings, participants took buses to Olds, Alberta, for the evening events. From June 29 to July 2, speakers and professional development took place along with tours around Olds and Calgary. July 2 ended the evening with a final banquet dinner, and July 3 is when participants returned to Calgary for their flights home.
Guse expressed what participants in this year’s IFAJ congress got to experience and the opportunity it was to showcase Alberta’s farming agriculture.
“They learned all about southern Alberta. They learned about Lethbridge irrigation. Some of them have never seen an irrigation system before. And so that was different for them. And so, I think the opportunity is huge because we’re able to showcase Canadian farming and Canadian agriculture.”
If you are interested in becoming a member of IFAJ, you can join through the local guild of Alberta Farm Writers Association (AFWA). Membership is $50; if you are a local journalist or communicator, it is recommended to join the provincial level of membership through the Canadian Farm Writers Federation (CFWF). Guse said how regenerative farming has been the talk of discussion, and Canada is one of the leading countries with regenerative farming.
“For people that are coming from around the world, their eyes are open to see how Canadian agriculture is so evolved. And so forward-thinking, everybody talks about regenerative farming, and that is truly something that everybody talks about regenerative farming, in that it is state of the art, and Canada’s definitely one of those leaders.”