More than 160 agricultural shows have been called off this year and more cancellations are sure to come as the pandemic continues apace.
- Agricultural Shows Australia is calling on the government to extend crucial financial support
- The funding was a “lifeline” to many committees that have been forced to cancel events for two years in a row
- The Agriculture Minister says state governments need to share the financial burden of show cancellations
Among the casualties is the North Coast National Lismore show, which will not be held for the second year running.
North Coast National president John Gibson said there was no way the event could go ahead.
“With what’s happening we just couldn’t see how we could continue plan for a show, especially with the Queensland border locked the way it is, because a lot of our exhibitors and people involved with the show come from south-east Queensland,” he said.
“It’s been touch and go with the lockdowns coming and going like they’ve been — it’s been a tough year to try and plan for a show, but we didn’t think it would get to this.”
Mr Gibson said a standalone horse or beef show as a standalone event may be held if the restrictions change.
Another price to pay
Mr Gibson said the financial impact of the cancellation would be felt by many in the business community.
“It’s a big loss to the North Coast and particularly to Lismore, as far as finances are concerned,” he said.
“The loss of any show, as far as turnover is concerned, is somewhere between $250,000 and $350,000, when you take into consideration all the various aspects of the show.”
The North Coast National received $70,000 through the $34-million Supporting Agricultural Shows and Field Days Program to reimburse it for costs incurred though the cancellation of the 2020 show.
Call to extend support
Agricultural Shows Australia executive officer Katie Stanley said the support package was an “absolute lifeline” to many shows and should be extended.
“I have had countless people come back to use and say that if that support package was not available, we would not be in existence today,” she said.
“We are working alongside both state and federal governments to see what is possible, but obviously shows need to start preparing a long way in advance for their next year, so without some form of income they can’t start preparing for 2022.”
Ms Stanley said the cancellation of no less than 161 shows around the country was hitting communities hard.
“Some of these shows were seeing two years in a row unable to put on any sort of community event, which obviously has long-term impacts on the community, on their wellbeing, on local stakeholders, those sponsors that so often support these ag shows,” she said.
More funding possible
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has indicated that more money may be available for 2021, but is calling on the states to chip in.
“The federal government is aware how important agricultural shows are to regional and rural communities,” he said.
“We will work through the extension of this program in the near future, but expect state governments to also share that burden.”
The NSW government has been approached for comment.