MAJOR sheep shows have welcomed $25 million in federal government funding for events cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year.
Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud this week announced the funding to help the societies to recover from the cost of the pandemic and continue in 2022 and beyond.
Round 2 of the Supporting Agricultural Shows and Field Days Program (to 30 June 2022) will provide $21 million for the operational costs of shows and field days cancelled in 2021 due to COVID-19.
The Supporting Showmen and Women Program (to 30 June 2022) has been extended to provide an extra $4 million for reimbursing showground rent of showmen and women.
Mr Littleproud said COVID-19 has forced more than 700 agricultural shows and field days to cancel since the pandemic began.
“As a result, our show societies and field day organisers have incurred significant financial losses for two consecutive years.
“Without these events they’ve got no way to cover their costs,” he said.
Mr Littleproud said the 580 agricultural shows and field days contribute more than $1 billion to the economy annually, attract more than 6 million patrons and are supported by more than 50,000 volunteers and more than 4000 show men and women.
“They deliver significant social benefits to rural and regional Australia, bringing heart, soul and a sense of pride to towns across the country.
“I am proud to support these events and will continue to encourage the states and territories to do likewise.”
Major sheep shows appreciate funding assistance
Australian Sheep and Wool Show chief executive officer Margot Falconer said the event benefited from the first round of the Supporting Agricultural Shows and Field Days Program and she is sure that further funding will be available from round 2.
“The maximum we could get last year was $70,000, which we got, and bearing in mind everything we lost this year, whatever the ceiling limit will be for our level of show, I’m very confident we will get it.”
Ms Falconer said the cost of the cancelled event this year was about $560,000.
“Only because we had expended everything up until the night before and then of course we get any of the benefit.”
Ms Falconer said the show had also been working closely with the Victorian Government through Regional Development Victoria and she was “very confident” that further funding will be available.
“We’ve had very good support.”
Hamilton Sheepvention president Kathryn Robertson said the event was supported by the federal program last year and the Round 2 funding will be “very much appreciated.”
“It will make a massive difference.”
Ms Robertson said Sheepvention has been unable to hold the event for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a replacement event –Sheep Connect – also had to be cancelled this year.
Lambex conference chair Georgina Gubbins said the organisers were in discussions to see what assistance options were available after not holding events in 2020 and this year.
Federal funding will help ag shows continue
Agricultural Shows Australia chair Dr Rob Wilson said the financial support announced by the Australian Government will enable ag shows to plan and implement shows in 2022 and beyond.
“The funding will give local communities, show societies and stakeholders the confidence to proceed with their shows for next year,” said.
“This announcement recognises the important role agricultural shows play in regional communities and the financial impact COVID has had.
“We have seen hundreds upon hundreds of shows cancelled in 2020 and 2021 at great cost to communities, agricultural exhibitors and the 50,000 volunteers who underpin show societies,” he said.
“Ag shows are a most effective event for educating Australians about agriculture and food production, bridging the city-country divide and have been an integral fixture in rural communities for over a century, with some agricultural show societies approaching their 200th year.”
Agricultural Shows Australia is encouraging local shows, their committees and showmen and women to prioritise their grant applications before the deadline.
The membership of the ASA is made up of capital city Royal agricultural societies and state-based agricultural show bodies, together representing more than 580 agricultural shows.