ENAJ and DG Agri invited 22 young ag journalists from 16 EU countries for a workshop between September 24 and 27. The participants learned about CAP and the press work of the EU Commission, discussed with experts and went to West Flanders, where farmers still find bombs and other remnants of the Great War.
‘The workshop was a great experience’, Esther von Beschwitz from the German farmers weekly Wochenblatt said. ‘Getting to know journalists from different countries was most valuable for me.’
Hayley Mace from Great Brittan agreed: ‘The most valuable part was meeting the journalists from other countries and hearing about their work and farming in other parts of Europe,’ she added. ‘Hearing about the impact of the Russian import sanctions on farmers in Poland and Finland, for example, was really interesting.’
And Ben Briggs, also from Great Britain was equally effusive. ‘I am not normally given to gush praise about overseas trips, but this trip was different. As well as getting to see the machinations of the European bureaucratic process up close and come away with a much better understanding of the decisions which affect UK farmers, we were also able to forge friendships with fellow young journalists from across Europe. It was a genuinely fantastic trip. Make sure you sign up in future given the chance.’
The group has already made moves to keep in touch by circulating contact details, photos and video clips from the trip.
The workshop started on Wednesday, September 24, with a welcome dinner by DG Agri. On Thursday, the team of DG Agri welcomed the group in the headquaters of DG Agri. John McClintock, communication expert from „Internal and external communication“, explained the background, measures and development of CAP. Later, Roger Waite, spokesman of Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, answered questions about the CAP reform.
The Midday Briefing in the Berlaymont press room, a must for every journalist visiting Brussels, was rather short that day. It left enough time for a sandwich lunch and more „Q and A“ with Roger Waite. The afternoon was busy with visits of the Council and the Parliament. Xavier Pavard, Press officer for agriculture and fisheries at the Council, and Jan Jakubov, EP Press officer on Agriculture & Fisheries, explained the press work. In the evening, Jacob B. Hansen, Director General of Fertilizers Europe, invited the group to a dinner in the centre of Brussels.
On Friday, an excursion to West Flanders was planned. The journalists visited a farm, where Hitler was cured during World War I. The War is still visible in the West of Flanders: huge cemeteries remind of the immense losses and farmers still find bombs and parts of war equipment. Grenades still threaten farmers because they still might explode when ploughed to the surface. Jef Verhaeren, president of ENAJ and organizer of the field trip said: „Flanders fields show, how important peace and freedom are“ and he appealed to defend these values.
Today West Flanders is a flourishing region. It is famous for its agriculture, mainly for its swine production and horticulture, its food industry, business related to agriculture and trade. The journalists visited the cheese factory of Milcobel in Moorslede, learned about cheese making and tasted some of the specialties. Cid Lines, a leading company in hygienic products for livestook and dairy farming, was the last visit of the day. After a presentation Cid Lines hosted a beer tasting. There could have been no better culmination for a long day!