Success with Commissioner on Brussels trip

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Agricultural journalists from across the EU questioned the new agricultural commissioner Phil Hogan on his plans for European agriculture during DG-Agri’s annual AG-Press media networking event, held in Brussels at the end of January.

Coinciding with the agriculture commissioner’s 100th day in office, the two-day networking event in Brussels gave the group the opportunity to meet Mr Hogan and his officials, and to debate issues surrounding the Common Agricultural Policy.

“We questioned him on subjects ranging from the dairy crisis to farm safety and retailer power, and he was also grilled on the new CAP regime, including his plans for reviewing the controversial three-crop rule,” said Caroline Stocks, one of the British delegates attending.

The trip also included a meeting of the ENAJ general assembly where the group discussed ways to encourage young journalists to get involved in writing about agriculture, and explored ideas for future study trips.

“The event was a great opportunity to get to grips with CAP issues and to have time to really grill the commissioner about matters affecting UK farmers,” said Caroline. “It was also interesting to get different perspectives on farming issues from fellow ENAJ members. I’ve come away with lots of new contacts who I know will come in useful when I’m writing articles in future.”

The trip certainly yielded plenty of copy in Britain alone – Caroline wrote several articles for the Press & Journal and The Scotsman on milk prices and farm safety. She also wrote a feature on Commissioner Hogan for Farmers Guardian. Johann Tasker, chief reporter for Farmers Weekly, wrote articles on farm safety, the three-crop rule and the dairy crisis, and has also written a piece on how the new CAP regime has been implemented in different member states. Meanwhile Chris McCullough’s report was published in The Scottish Farmer and Ewan Pate published a piece inThe Courier.

Future facility trips to Brussels and other parts of the EU will be flagged up on the ENAJ website, where members can also sign up for the ENAJ quarterly newsletter to get first-hand information on visits and other events and activities.

ENAJ Members also use the EU Commission’s DG-Agri AG-Press.eu website for access to press releases, commentary and other materials relating to agriculture in the EU and the CAP. Registered users are selected for invitations to regular DG-AGRI press trips. The DG-Agri communications team, which now includes former commissioner spokesman Roger Waite, a Member of the Guild, asks everyone who uses this resource to complete a brief survey here.

Reporting by Johann Tasker and Peter Hill, of BGAJ