Monday, January 26, 2009

Oops -- and here's the news!

I have been somewhat remiss in not updating my blog since September. My profuse apologies. In my defence I have been somewhat busy, though, and this has had to take second place.
So to all those who have been asking – yes, there are a few – here are several updates.
I have long rabbited on about the benefits of the Guild being a part of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists.
The annual congress it holds is a case in point, as it allows those who go on it to build last friendships with colleagues internationally. The benefits gained, contacts in all the main agricultural producing nations, far outweigh the costs.
I was delighted at the end of September to be able to host Masaru Yamada on a visit to Scotland.
Masaru is a senior staff writer on the daily Japan Agriculture News. He wanted to find out about Scotland's policy on food security, an issue that is key in Japan as it imports nearly 40% of the food it consumers.
A few e-mails and an interview was secured with Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment in the Scottish Government and Scotland's farming minister.
The hour-long session at a hotel in Elgin in the heart of Scotland's malt whisky country provided Masaru with a real insight into Scotland's food and drink policy.
We then travelled to The Macallan Distillery at Craigellachie for a VIP tour. Lunch followed before travelling back to Elgin and visiting Gordon & Macphail's wonderful whisky shop which sells vast quantities of the drink that is Scotland's biggest export and which accounts for about £2billion of trade annually. That's a lot of sore heads around the world.
From there we headed back to Aberdeen via Alford, home of Scotland's other best known export – Aberdeen-Angus cattle. A life-sized statue of Jeremy Eric of Bridgefoot, an Angus that sold for 28,000gn, graces the entrance to Alford.
The pictures show Masaru with Lochhead, at The Macallan Distillery, on the iron bridge that crosses the River Spey and at Alford with Jeremy Eric.

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