Tue, 07/25/2017 - 00:38

Posted by Aeman Ansari on November 09, 2014

By Mary Baxter, Agricultural Journalism Editor

A year ago October, Barbara Duckworth received a call from a representative of the Dutch embassy in Washington, D.C. Would she be interested in participating in a tour of farms in The Netherlands?

“I don’t know how they found me, quite honestly,” said Duckworth, a reporter who specializes in writing about livestock production for Western Producer, a large, weekly agricultural news publication based in Western Canada. “They seemed to know who we were and what we did and who I was, which is always kind of weird because I like to think I’m anonymous. I’ve always been very firm on this: I’m not the story—I’m just a messenger.”

It took a while to obtain approval but by the first week in December, she was on her way—expenses paid by her employer—across the Atlantic to explore how the Dutch livestock industry was tackling the issue of animal welfare. She and six other Canadians, including researchers, another journalist and a farmer, spent a week visiting pig and chicken operations in the country’s southern region, meeting farmers and even an inventor that had developed new ways to kill chickens and pasteurize the carcasses.

“It was the best of the best and some of it was purely experimental—it wasn’t widely adopted by farmers yet,” she noted of the many innovations she saw.

On Saturday, a selection of articles from a special report Duckworth did on animal welfare in The Netherlands earned a gold for press feature at the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation annual writing competition. The awards were presented during the organization’s conference, held this year in Prince Edward Island.

Other gold winners included Carolyn King for technical feature, Sheri Monk for press column, Laura Rance for press editorial, Mary Baxter for monthly press reporting, Lorraine Stevenson for weekly press reporting, Jen Skerritt for daily press reporting, Lyndsey Smith for world wide web, Ruth Bonneville for feature photograph, Robin Booker for news photograph, Rachel Kehrig for visual electronic media and Alice McFarlane for audio electronic media, Cole Christensen for news release and Jay Whetter for general periodical.

In total, 42 awards were presented in 14 categories. Full results and links to winning stories can be found on the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation website.

The organization represents nearly 350 English-speaking agricultural journalists, broadcasters and communicators from across Canada.


J-Source and ProjetJ are publications of the Canadian Journalism Project, a venture among post-secondary journalism schools and programs across Canada, led by Ryerson University, Université Laval and Carleton University and supported by a group of donors.