By Elaine Shein, Co-Chair, AAEA International Committee
If you dig into “Dutch Roots: Small Country, Big Solutions,” the IFAJ World Congress 2018 taking place in the Netherlands July 11-15, you’ll emerge with some great stories as well as a valuable network of sources and new friends.
Find out how a country that is just over 16,000 square miles in total area has earned itself the title of second largest agricultural exporter in the world in 2017. In comparison, while the U.S. was No. 1, it has a total land area of almost 3.8 million square miles.
The timing is perfect for the Dutch to host IFAJ’s annual Congress and share their country’s success stories and focus on three main themes: Circular Economy, Smart Farming and Urban Delta. “With these themes and the context of the agri-food chains in which they operate, the challenges of dairy, poultry, pig and cattle producers as arable crop farmers and greenhouse producers will be addressed,” promises the Dutch guild NVLJ, the Dutch Association for Agricultural and Horticultural Journalism.
As an AAEA member, no matter what your agricultural area of interest is — big or small, livestock or crops, horticulture or dairy — you will be able to find something of relevance that you can report to your audiences back home.
The Congress itself lasts four days, beginning with a day of tours in Food Valley, followed by a day of meetings at Wageningen University and Research, and then two more days of tours through the Netherlands. People can select which tours they want to attend (first come, first served):
- Dutch dairy diversity
- Sustainable crop production
- Sustainable urban delta
- The circular way of farming
- Veal calves, beef cattle and sheep
- Pig and poultry
- Urban dairy farming
- Smart and silt farming
- And yes, even World of manure
About 200 people from around the world — journalists, communicators and photographers — are expected to attend the Congress. There is also an opportunity for people to register for a post-Congress tour July 15-18. You can find out more about the Congress and register at http://www.dutchroots.info. Also, for FAQ, go to http://www.dutchroots.info/faq/ to assist you. The post-Congress tour information is at http://www.dutchroots.info/post-tour-programme/ — note that there is a limit to participants.
The Congress also includes the annual IFAJ business meeting, where delegates debate and decide strategies to benefit international ag journalism and support free, fair and independent journalism. There are also some excellent professional development and training opportunities, especially for journalists from developing countries. One of the IFAJ benefits is the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism Award that recognizes leadership potential in young members from various countries, including from the U.S. The top 10 selected attend an amazing professional development boot camp prior to the congress. (You can learn more about IFAJ, and how it serves its members in 45 countries, at www.IFAJ.org)
Finally, if you do plan to go, be prepared to learn a lot about Dutch hospitality. They are proud of their country, as well as eager to help you out as much as possible.
This Netherlands Congress will also be a great opportunity for U.S. attendees to showcase what we have in store for 2019 IFAJ Minnesota Congress. So, let’s have a big contingent there to warmly invite the world to come enjoy Midwest agriculture and our wonderful hospitality.