A brand new award recognising excellence in hard news reporting about any aspect of the beef and sheep industry has been won by Richard Rennie, for a portfolio of articles that appeared in the NZ Farmers Weekly.
The award, sponsored by Beef + Lamb NZ Ltd, was added to the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalist & Communicators’ annual awards, which were presented in Wellington last Friday evening.
In his articles, Rennie covered a series of issues affecting New Zealand beef and sheep farmers. One tackled the potential damage of fracking to Taranaki farmland – he discovered that not only was the practice not new, it had helped restore marginal coastal farmland into productive pastoral operations and stabilised coastal dune movement. Another covered a forced sale of Alec Campbell’s property after mortgagee action by Rabobank. It revealed the farmer’s claims about stock being within the with-holding period, after being treated with a long-acting drench, were well founded, raising justifiable concerns over food safety as a result of the actions. Transpower’s proposed pylons for a Western Bay of Plenty sheep and beef farm, and the ensuing battle, were the subject of the third item.
The supreme Rongo Award, recognising excellence in agricultural journalism, was won by Auckland-based freelance journalist, Benedict Collins, for a series of programmes on the devastation of the kiwfruit industry by PSA-V, which appeared on Country99TV.
The runner-up was Shawn McAvinue, for articles that appeared in the Southland Times (though he is now working for the Otago Daily Times). This is the first year that TBfree New Zealand has sponsored this award.
At Friday night’s awards dinner, a total of ten awards were presented, nine for journalism and one for photography. The key objectives of the awards are the encouragement and recognition of excellence in agricultural journalism.
Another new sponsor, for an award that has been around for a number years, is Ballance Agri-Nutrients, which has funded the Farm Business Writing Award. The inaugural winner of this award was Tim Cronshaw, of The Press.
The PGG Wrightson Sustainable Land Management Award focuses on local, national and global agribusiness and environmental factors impacting on the sustainability of farm businesses, and was won by Susan Murray, of Radio New Zealand’s Country Life programme
The AgResearch Science Writers Award, established to enhance standards of science writing, especially about pastoral agriculture, was won by Tim Cronshaw of The Press.
The Horticulture New Zealand Journalism Award, set up to recognise excellence in agricultural journalism focusing on New Zealand’s horticulture industry, was won this year by Tim Fulton of New Zealand Farmers Weekly.
The Rural Women of New Zealand Award, which recognises the important contribution women make (and have always made) in the rural community, was won by Jackie Harrigan for articles which appeared in Country-Wide.
The AGMARDT Agribusiness Award, which recognises high quality information about and effective analysis of national, global and other agribusiness, was won by Hugh Stringleman, for articles which appeared in NZ Farmers Weekly.
The Federated Farmers Rural Photography Award, for a single photo that illustrates a rural event or activity was won by Taranaki Daily News photographer, Jonathan Cameron.
The Guild’s own award is designed to encourage and recognise excellence among journalists with three or less years reporting on agricultural issues, The Agricultural Journalism Encouragement Award, went to John Watson, of Country99TV.