ECFWA - The Nib- June 2016
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The Nib - June 2016

Prez says

by Christina Franc, Acting President

This issue of the Nib marks several important moments for ECFWA. First and foremost, we had our AGM in early May, and with that we have a new board to introduce to you:
  • Sharon Grose will be stepping up as president this year, in September as she has some very exciting events going on at home that will keep her distracted until then.
  • Meaghan Ryersee joins our board and will be hitting the ground running as our first vice president.
  • Kristy Nudds will continue to stand as our second vice president 
  • Mary Feldskov will continue to stand as our secretary treasurer
  • Kimberley Coyle is our new communications coordinator
Returning directors include Courtney Denard, Amy Reusch and Patrick Dupuis. I’d like to welcome new director Rachel Telford to the board as well.
With that, we say goodbye to our past president, Clare Wooding, who has done an excellent job keeping the organization on track with her bounty of knowledge. As well, a special thank you to Karen Dallimore, who has helped revitalize our communications over the last several years.  Finally, thank you to Jeanine Moyer, who while she was on the board helped organize several events and activities and was always keen to lend a helping hand.
Another important moment is the revitalized look of the Nib. Kimberley has been working to improve the functionality and so is experimenting with a new format. It is being designed in a different program that tracks various statistics including open rate and click rate. Why is that important? It helps us to better understand what is better information to you, as an ECFWA member. If you have questions about this new format, or have suggestions for improvement, Kim would love to hear from you. To get in touch with Kim or another board member, be sure to visit our 'Contact Us' page at   

Finally, we on the ECFWA board wish you a wonderful summer full of farm tours and fun. Stay tuned for more information!


There was sad news on May 29 as one of our members, Leslie Ballentine recently passed away.  Leslie was the former long-time executive director of the Ontario Farm Animal Council (a predecessor organization to Farm and Food Care).

Leslie was a long time member of the ECFWA and was a great team member on the registration committee for the International Federation of Agricultural Journalist Congress when it was held in Canada in 2011.  In recent years, Leslie had been writing a lot for the Ontario Farmer.   

Leslie helped to form OFAC in 1988 and was with the organization in a fulltime capacity until 2004, continuing in a consultant role after that date.  Before joining OFAC, Leslie was the Communications Officer for the Ontario Egg Producers' Marketing Board and worked for both the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Canadian Cattlemen's Association. Over the course of the last 30 years, Leslie became recognized as an expert on animal use controversies, specializing in the animal rights and animal welfare movements. She provided expertise to farm organizations across Canada. 

She is survived by her daughter Kailin and her husband Alan Beard.

The obituary and arrangements can be viewed 

Our thoughts and prayers are with Leslie's family and friends during this difficult time.  


"As long as I continue to deliver consistent value to my clients (beyond their expectations), I have no trouble setting and maintaining high prices for the services I’m providing. Before setting your prices at the bare minimum you need to charge in order to hit your financial needs, consider the actual value you’d be creating for your potential clients and make sure you’re not leaving money on the table. You can always increase your rates in the future and hope your client stays on board, but if you start at a price point you’re already excited about, you’ll be that much more likely to over-deliver and continue increasing your value moving forward.” 

This infographic was created by Ryan Robinson, an entrepreneur and writer that teaches people how to start meaningful self-employed careers at   

Read the full blog post at:

By Suzanne Atkinson

I was sorry to have to miss the ECFWA annual meeting which celebrated the food and agriculture of Caledon. It looks like it was a great event. Congratulations to the organizers.

In looking over photos and accounts of the event on the ECFWA Facebook page, I was absolutely floored when I came across Karen Dallimore’s photo taken at Spirit Tree Cider.

This is a beautiful portrait of a really devoted member of ECFWA and to me perfectly defines our role as ag communicators.

While Spirit Tree owner Tom Wilson seems to be the focus of this photo, that’s really just an illusion.
I have never met Karen’s true subject matter here, Elbert van Donkersgoed. But he has been working to tell agriculture’s story since 1971. After a 35 year career as the strategic policy advisory for CFFO, he didn’t retire.  He has worked with Ontario’s pork producers, for the Farmland Trust, Sustain Ontario and the GTA ag action committee to name just a few.

While the visit to Spirit Tree was to learn about that particular business, the bigger picture is that it was a visit by ECFWA.

“I was sitting there listening to the guy talking and just got fascinated by the reflection,” Karen told me later.
“I still can't believe the camera captured it. I couldn't see it until I got home on the computer.”

What Karen captured here is a reflection of all of us in the ag communication industry, and I expect of this day. Often we don’t know what we have until we get home.

In every story we tell, even though we try to squish it down so that it is barely noticeable, there is a tiny little piece of us. Theoretically if we do our job right, the news story or release is a just the facts piece about what is happening, with no bias.

But that never happens, and the placing of a byline on each piece tells the reader so.

Mr. van Donkersgoed was just one of many of you visiting Spirit Tree for the annual meeting. But his tiny, slightly skewed, reflection is symbolic of the role we bring to every story we tell.

Thank you Karen.

-        Suzanne Atkinson

2016 ECFWA AGM Report from Caledon

On Wednesday, May 11, 2016, approximately 30 of our members, from a cross-section of agriculture industries and professions attended our AGM. It was held at the Caledon Country Club, situated on the edge of the picturesque Niagara Escarpment. The theme of the day was ‘Agri-Tourism – Diversifying the Farm’, which was reflected in all aspects of the event, from the speakers, to the lunch and even to the farm tour.

The morning began with business updates and reports from the ECFWA Board of Directors, and nominating the 2016-2017 Board of Directors.  This was followed by revealing the winners of the photography contest.  To learn who the winners of the Photography Contest please visit:


The first guest speaker was Michelle Harris, Executive Director of the Headwaters Tourism Association, who provided an overview of agri-tourism opportunities for farmers in the Headwaters area, and right across the province.  She talked about the business case for rural agri-tourism development, the  importance of community building and that bringing people together showcases pride of place.

Allan Thompson, Town of Caledon Mayor, was also a guest speaker who discussed his journey as an award-winning dairy farmer, who now finds himself at the helm of municipal affairs. “You need to have ag people who understand the industry on municipal council to protect the sector”, said Mayor Thompson. Through his talk, it was evident that access to internet is a common concern among local residents and farmers, but progress is being made, it is just a slow process.


Lunch was the Farm Food Fair, where participants sampled local treats from farm caterers, brought to us by the farmers themselves.  Each of them shared their stories about their farms/businesses and how they have been successful.   Lunch vendors included Broadway Farm’s Market, Heatherlea Farm Market, Downey’s Farm Market, Paradise Farms, Caledon Country Club Restaurant.
* photo taken by Courtney Denard

After the delicious lunch, attendees made the short drive to Spirit Tree Estate Cidery, where host Tom Wilson, spoke passionately about the environmental practices, sustainable efforts and production methods used on their orchards, followed by a sampling of several different ciders.

Thank you to our AGM sponsors, which included Dairy Farmers of Ontario, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Crop Life Canada, La Coop federee and Peel Federation of Agriculture for their generous contributions.

Click here to view more photos from the AGM

*Photos in this article were taken by Sharon Grose Photography, unless otherwise noted.


The 2016 edition of the ECFWA Photo Contest is now closed and the winners were announced at our recent AGM. Thank you to everyone who submitted their best Canadian agriculture and farm photos under the three themes - PEOPLE, PLACES and THINGS. The judges had lots of great shots to choose from.  Congratulations to the winners:

People Category
Winner: Nicolas Mesly - Normand Roy
1st Finalist: Bruce Sargent - Pull the Tractor
2nd Finalist: Kathie MacDonald - A Good Day Drying

Places Category
Winner: Andrew Campbell- Wet Beans
1st Finalist: Nicolas Mesly – Champ de mais (Corn Field)
2nd Finalist: Nicolas Mesly – Crepuscule (Dusk)

Things Category
Winner: Andrew Campbell – Newborn Calf
1st Finalist – Nicolas Mesly – Pulverisateur (Sprayer)
2nd Finalist – Bruce Sargent – The Kid Goat

*photos shown are the winners from each category.  To view all of the photos, visit

About the Winners
Andrew Campbell is a farmer, with a passion for agriculture advocacy, social media and new technology. With the farm, known as Bellson Farms, he and his family milk holsteins and grow corn, soybeans, wheat and hay in Southern Ontario’s Middlesex County
Bruce Sargent is the owner of Farm Boy Products, which specializes in agricultural media communications. Bruce is a 7th generation dairy farmer who is passionate about promoting agriculture with video
Kathie MacDonald works in customer service for Woodrill Ltd and is passionate about communicating good news stories in agriculture

Nicolas Mesly is an agronomist and award winning freelance reporter photographer, who specializes in agricultural, food business and ecological issues.

*** Thank you to La Coop federee for sponsoring the photo contest, Patrick Dupuis for organizing and our judges, Normand Blouin and Pierre Cadoret.

Keep those cameras rolling and stay tuned for details on the next photo contest.

For more information contact ECFWA Director Patrick Dupuis at or 514-858-2044 or visit the ECFWA website at 

2016 - 2017 ECFWA Board of Directors
President: Christina Franc/will transition to Sharon Grose in September
1st Vice President: Meaghan Ryersee
2nd Vice President: Kristy Nudds
Secretary Treasurer: Mary Feldskov
Communications Coordinator: Kimberley Coyle
Courtney Denard
Patrick Dupuis
Amy Reusch
Rachel Telford
Vacant Director seat beginning in September

Our ECFWA representatives with the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation (CFWF) are Sharon Grose and Kristy Nudds.

By Karen Dallimore

It wasn’t that long ago that we used to get faxes come at 2 a.m. That was how organizations thought they should use modern technology to communicate with their members and clients, but it was enough to wake the dog. Where have we gone since then?
In the 80’s and 90’s, IPSOS was collecting data by phone, always respectful not to call a farmer on a Sunday, recalled Colin Siren, Vice President, Agriculture, Food and Animal Health Division at Ipsos Reid. Speaking to the Eastern Canada Farm Writers’ Association as part of a communications panel professional development session in March 2016, Siren admits that IPSOS has embraced what he called ‘e-enabled research’ – multi-modal electronic data collection and distribution.
The advent of on-line research has meant that anyone can collect data, but now, instead of calling out of the blue, IPSOS can develop communities of smaller populations – targeting potato growers or veterinarians, for example. IPSOS can get people to participate, showing them a video and getting feedback, interacting for a deeper experience.
When it comes to distributing information, however, the wide assortment of communications options have fragmented the farming community. Siren says they haven’t turned their back on mail, which can still service an older or more isolated cohort, but e-mail is now the most preferred method of communication.
Even with several mediums available, none fulfill all needs exclusively.
Alex Hamilton is the Producer Relations Specialist with the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, a position that didn’t exist three years ago. Through farm visits, paper surveys and focus groups, his job description mainly involves getting feedback from producers.
Gathering the data is one thing, but for him, technology has become an obstruction to getting the word out. He needs to service a twenty-something year old farmer with a handheld device, his dad with a desktop, and grandpa, with neither, all on one farm.
No matter what the medium though, the goal is still the same: for his message to end up on top of the pile on the left, not buried in the pile on the right. “You’re competing for their time.”
He’ll use a combination of Twitter, Facebook, their webpage and paper for important messages. Formatting that message is different now too, with 140-bit Twitter restrictions encouraging short and quick communication. “Summarize first, then follow up with detailed links,” was his advice.
Four years ago Tyler Brooks’ position as e-communications coordinator with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture didn’t exist either. They had no Twitter or Facebook presence then and their website was in need of updating. They still use mail, since one-quarter of OFA members don’t have a computer and ten percent don’t have high speed internet. He finds their members will read print but afterwards will validate the information on-line, especially with controversial topics.
Brooks will use Twitter as their ‘hard news’ medium and Facebook for ‘soft news’, creating a community with news of benefit programs and events, which ensures the message isn’t duplicated. His added challenge is reaching out to two different audiences - members and government - noting an increased use of social media by government officials, all reading the same message.
Mastering the art of placing big policy issue messages in 140 characters has been challenging, but with e-messaging he is now able to use analytics to measure who they are reaching and how they’re reaching them. Before you send your message, decide what outcome you want then decide on the media you want to use, measuring afterwards to see if you’ve “moved the needle”, said Brooks.
Timing was an issue for all three panellists, both time of day and time of year. Do you want to reach a farmer at 7 a.m. with their morning coffee, or show up on their smart phone at 9 a.m. when they’re in their tractor? Frequency is the key, said Siren, sending out reminders while identifying and working around the habits of the people you want to target with your message.
What doesn’t work? Open-ended questions, said Siren, which end up being nothing but a data dump. Hamilton has learned that a manual for dairy farmers will end up in the blue box in July but may end up on the top of the stack in November. Brooks now knows better than to rely heavily on electronic distribution of news, with good intentions of cost cutting negated by a ton of phone calls when members didn’t receive notifications in the mail.
In their closing words, Siren said that five years from now we can look forward to more open communications with VIP’s through social media, while Brooks sees an increased use of infographics to tell quick, simple messages. No matter what the medium, Hamilton cautioned to not take your audience for granted, seeking constant feedback about content and frequency of communications.
Thank you to ECFWA members Jeanine Moyer and Clare Wooding for organizing, Andrew Campbell for moderating the panel and to Syngenta for their kind offer of their lunchroom for the event. The session was followed by dinner at the Shakespeare Arms in Guelph.

New Members
A big welcome to our 9 newest members:
  • Janelle Blackwell, Quarry Integrated Communications Inc.
  • Christa Carleton, Quarry Integrated Communications Inc.
  • Tanya Hammond, The Farmer’s Daughter
  • Barb Keith, Freelance
  • Maegan MacKimmie, Grain Farmers of Ontario
  • Jennifer Nevans, Dairy Farmers of Ontario.
  • Richard Phillips, Arlogh Consulting
  • Lyndsey Smith,
  • Dana Van Allen, Ontario Pork
Keep sharing the good news of membership of ECFWA! 

Team Member Wanted
Join the ECFWA Board.  There will be a director seat available in September 2016.  If you are interested to become part of the team, please contact Sharon Grose at 

Mentor Program 

A benefit to Eastern Canadian Farm Writers Association (ECFWA) membership is its Mentor Program. The program pairs members with experienced professionals, who also happen to be ECFWA members, to provide guidance and support. The program has helped many members navigate the world of agricultural communications. Mentors can be contacted for a question or ongoing support, whatever the participant choses.  Any member interested in mentorship can contact Amy Reusch at Alternatively, if you are interested in sharing your experience and knowledge with members as a mentor please contact Amy Reusch, as well.


Coming up next . . . 
Awards Contest - entries will be accepted from June 3rd until July 4th. Get your best stories all lined up. Let your reporter friends at daily newspapers know that their category will 'fee free' again this year - we need to encourage entries from what is becoming a beleaguered sector of the industry.

Lifetime Achievement Award - the notice for nominations will be sent out in July for presentation at the annual conference in Saskatoon in September.

Annual conference - The 2016 Canadian Farm Writers' Federation Conference will be held in Saskatoon from  September 29th to October 1st.  Stay tuned to the website for information and registration  


If you have any news items to share in the next Niblets, please email them to

I would like to introduce myself, as I am the new Communications Coordinator on the ECFWA Board.  I have ten years of public relations/communications experience in the agriculture sector. I am currently the Marketing Coordinator (previously Communications Coordinator) at Ontario Pork and previously worked with the Agricultural Adaptation Council and Foodland Ontario, all based in Guelph Ontario. My specialties are in writing, event planning, social media strategies, program communication, and media relations. I hold a diploma from the Public Relations program at Conestoga College and continue to attend workshops and take courses to develop and learn.    In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my yellow Labrador retriever, cooking, traveling, going to Blue Jays games with my husband and writing a personal blog.
 I would like to thank Karen Dallimore, for her dedication to the ECFWA Board over the past decade and specifically to the Communications Coordinator role over the past several years. 

Mary Baxter placed third in the special sections category of the North American Agricultural Journalists annual writing competition for her Better Farming March 2015 feature article, “An Ontario phosphorus strategy.” It’s the second year in a row that she has achieved that standing in the special sections category. The competition features some heavy competition from mainstream media and big U.S. Ag publications. For instance, Chicago-Tribune reporter Patricia Callahan took top honours in the features category. 

Resi Walt recently accepted a new position of Member Services Representative with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture for the counties of Prince Edward, Hastings, Lennox and Addington, and Northumberland.  She is sad to be leaving her position at Farm & Food Care Ontario but is excited to be moving onto the next step in her career, which also means she is moving home to her family's farm.

Congratulations to Clare Wooding and her husband Owen who welcomed a baby boy (Thomas) into their family on April 19th.  Both parents are doing well and their two-year old son James is excited to be a big brother. 

On January 12th, Rachel Telford and her husband Daryl welcomed the birth of their daughter, Josephine.  In early May, Rachel return to work at Grain Farmers of Ontario and Josephine is now enjoying her days with Dad. 


The Nib is a distribution for members, by members of the
Eastern Canada Farm Writers’ Association

Editor: Kimberley Coyle

Newsletter comments or suggestions are welcome.

Like Us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! @ECFWA.
Connect with your peers – this is YOUR organization!
The next edition of the Nib will be distributed in September 2016.


Copyright © 2016 Eastern Canadian Farmer Writers' Association, All rights reserved.

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