Apr. 8, 2009

Source: Steve Werblow as seen on

The 2009 Ag Media Summit (AMS) " which is being conducted jointly with the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ)" will bring together an estimated 700 agricultural communicators from around the world for a jam-packed program of workshops, panel discussions, tours and networking opportunities.

The meeting will be held Saturday, August 1 through Wednesday, August 5 at the Renaissance Worthington Hotel in Ft. Worth, Texas.

For more information, go to: www.agmediasummit.com

The Summit, now in its 11th year, is the annual conference of many of ag journalism’s top organizations, including the American Agricultural Editors Association (AAEA), the Livestock Publications Council (LPC), American Business Media Agri-Council, the Ag Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) and the Ag Relations Council (ARC). Together, the Summit convenes agricultural journalists, public relations practitioners, corporate communications managers, designers, publishers and students for an unparalleled chance to hone their writing, photography, design, marketing and management skills.

Drawing an expected crowd of 175 IFAJ members from Europe, Asia and other continents this year adds immeasurably to the networking and learning opportunities for all participants, notes JoAnn Alumbaugh of Farms.com, co-chair of the Ag Media Summit Program Committee.

"These international guests bring new perspectives to the topics being discussed, and could likely shine a fresh light on controversial issues," she says. "In fact, several leading IFAJ members will serve as speakers for the sessions, allowing attendees to draw from a completely new vantage point."

High-Powered Program

The AMS program traditionally combines professional development workshops with insight from speakers drawn from a variety of industries a mix of education and inspiration. This year, there's an added boost of more information, allowing journalists to bring home more stories from panel discussions and interviews on an array of hot topics.

In fact, the Summit will kick off with a debate on ag policy and trade between retired U.S. Congressman Charlie Stenholm of Texas and Kansas State University ag economist Barry Flinchbaugh. Panel discussions on global food safety and biosecurity issues, agriculture's role in sequestering carbon, and nutrient management also pepper the program.

Renowned writers including investigative journalist Macarena Hernandez and freelancer Loring Leifer will lead sessions on crafting better copy, while publisher and editor-in-chief Evan Smith of Texas Monthly will offer insight on steering magazines to greatness. National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson will share tips and tales from his travels, and a lucky bunch will engage in a day-long, hands-on photography workshop with instructors from renowned training team the Blue Pixel Group.

The Summit program also features workshops on navigating new trends in media, from the convergence of print and electronic outlets to the switch from printed page to broadcast, tweets and blogs. Other speakers will address how leaders redefine themselves and their businesses to make their way through challenging times like these.
Hewing to the message of making the most of challenging times, the Summit's program committee focused on delivering outstanding value to attendees, says Alumbaugh.

"One of the overriding comments we frequently hear in reference to the Ag Media Summit is the quality of speakers and programs we're able to provide while maintaining a reasonable fee for the meeting," she says. "Program committee members take great pride in searching out professionals" both within our industry and in other related fields " who can inspire and lead us toward improvement."

Texas Tours

In addition to the action in the conference rooms, this year's Summit features an unprecedented wealth of tours of Texas agriculture, both during and after the meeting. Post-conference tours will split up and head to the Panhandle, Central Texas and the South for up-close exploration of the incredible diversity of Lone Star farming.

Sure to be popular with IFAJ members eager to bring home stories and photos from the U.S., the tours are also an outstanding opportunity for North American ag communicators.

"We've designed the tours to give visitors a taste of Texas agriculture, from the traditional cattle and cotton sectors to the lesser-known wine and shrimp industries things you'd probably never experience on your own or even on the job," says Janet Hunter of Farm Credit Bank of Texas, who co-chair of the Tour Committee. "Even for agrimarketers doing business in Texas, this might be a rare opportunity to visit places like the famous Four Sixes Ranch, the Borlaug Center at Texas A&M, and the Gulf Cotton Compress" places that typically aren't open to the public.

"You'll see big feedyards and even bigger ranches, learn about cutting-edge ag research and meet real cowboys and winemakers," Hunter promises. "You'll be able to also shoot some clay pigeons, photograph wind turbines, try the Texas two-step, sample locally made beer and test your mettle eating Texas salsa.

Bottom line, you'll understand the slogan, ˜Texas -- it's a whole other country.™

For more information on the 2009 Ag Media Summit and an online registration form, visit