Agriculture Out There – an international perspective

The agriculture sector must actively promote itself in the community or risk being overshadowed by vested interest groups with their own very different

This is the view of a leading rural communicator, Markus Rediger, who is responsible for positioning agriculture in his native Switzerland.

He will speak at a Rural Press Club of Victoria breakfast in Melbourne on Tuesday, September 29, prior to attending an international agricultural journalist
conference in Cairns.

The Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists is presenting the speaking tour in partnership with the Council of Rural Research and Development Corporations.

“When it comes to promoting positive images and messages about agriculture you can’t afford not to do it,” says Mr Rediger who also has a global role as
President of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists.

Mr Rediger is Editor and Managing Director of the independent Agricultural Information Centre in Berne which has an annual operating budget of about five
million Swiss Francs. It enjoys widespread backing from government, farmer groups, corporates and agribusiness.

He says the centre was formed in 1937 when Swiss farmers became disillusioned with how their sector was publically perceived and decided to pursue a path
of advocacy through the media.

It has become a one-stop-shop for journalists seeking information on any aspect of Swiss agriculture, working to ensure a steady flow of news to the community.

Electronic and print news articles and visual content is generated as well as resources for teachers. Statistical and contact databases are maintained
for media, operating across five languages. The centre is increasingly using social media to engage directly with the community.

The regular flow of information has had a positive impact on Swiss agriculture.

“There is so much to communicate about agriculture and food to the public. The public wants to know about agriculture because everyone eats and drinks
every day,” he says.

Mr Rediger has been writing articles since the 1980s. He studied agricultural communications with the University of Illinois and completed a Masters at
the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich linking tourism and agriculture.

He was a farm magazine editor and a teacher at a Swiss agricultural college before moving to his current role.

“The role of agricultural journalism is important as society becomes increasingly urbanised with few people having any direct contact with the land.”

“We help build bridges of knowledge and understanding,” he says.

International agricultural journalists and their Australian colleagues will gather in Cairns from October 8 to 11 to experience tropical agriculture before
travelling via Sydney to Hamilton in New Zealand for the 2015 IFAJ World Congress.