ABC journalists Mel Groves and Cassandra Hough have taken out two prestigious awards for excellence in rural reporting at the International Federation Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) annual congress in Minneapolis, USA.

Mel, a Mackay-based ABC Rural Reporter, won the IFAJ Rabobank Star Prize for Broadcast Digital Journalism for her ABC Online entry, ‘Hoping for a reality check’, which reported on the backlash to confronting images of drought-affected livestock published on social media.

Cassandra, the host of ABC’s Country Hour in South Australia, won the IFAJ Rabobank Star Prize for Broadcast Audio for her Country Hour report on an Australian aid project helping Vietnamese subsistence farmers use counter-seasonal vegetables to help feed their own families.

ABC TV current affairs reporter Michael Brissenden was runner-up In the IFAJ Rabobank Star Prize for TV Broadcasting, for Four Corners’ compelling look at the drought through the eyes of farmers and the community at Quirindi in northern NSW.

The presentations were made during a special function as part of the 2019 IFAJ Congress in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

ACAJ President Pete Lewis said the results speak volumes for the standard of rural reporting across Australia.

“Our journalists, broadcasters and photographers have consistently been among the world’s best in this competition and once again the ‘cream has floated to the top’,” he said.

“It’s a particularly satisfying result given the high calibre of entries this year from the IFAJ’s 50 member countries.”

Pete also congratulated Horsham-based ABC Rural Reporter, Angus Verley, who was chosen this year to take part in the IFAJ AllTech Young Leaders Boot Camp as well as the IFAJ Congress in Minnesota.

“The ACAJ acknowledges the tremendous support and encouragement we have received over a long period from corporate partners like Rabobank and AllTech,” Lewis said.

“They make it possible each year for Australia’s best rural journalists – and emerging young industry leaders – to take part in an important exchange of ideas with international colleagues.”

Australia will host the 2021 IFAJ Congress in Adelaide and Alice Springs.