Good show: help for agricultural societies
The Australian Government has announced a $36 million funding program to support agricultural show societies as they recover from the effects of COVID-19, ensuring they can continue once things get back to normal.
The pandemic has dealt a major blow to agricultural shows, with most expected to be cancelled for 2020 in the interest of public health and social distancing measures. These cancellations have also had a devastating impact on the exhibitors who depend on these shows to generate revenue and expand their customer base. Many have been left with backlogs of stock that had been prepared especially for sale at shows, and have been forced to “pivot” their entire business model in an attempt to shift it.
“Agricultural shows are estimated to contribute $1 billion to the economy each year and attract six million patrons annually, supported by 50,000 volunteers,” says Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack. “They create social bonds and improve mental health in parts of regional Australia where distance, drought, bushfires and now COVID-19 have caused significant hardship and distress.”
The Supporting Agricultural Shows program will provide a one-off reimbursement to agricultural show societies to deal with cash flow pressures caused by COVID-19.
“This funding supports not only the big Royal Shows in each capital but right down to the small country shows, because we acknowledge the role shows play in connecting agriculture and regional Australia to metropolitan Australians,” says Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud.
“There is a real risk that if we don’t help, not only could Royal Shows cease to function the way they are now but also those small shows, all of which are run by volunteers, could fold.”