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Agricultural Show Societies thrown a funding lifeline

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Agricultural Show Societies have been thrown a funding lifeline. 

The Australian Government is spending $36 million to support agricultural show societies recover from the effects of COVID-19, ensuring they can continue after the pandemic.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt agricultural shows, with most expected to be cancelled for 2020 in the interest of public health and social distancing measures.

“Agricultural shows are part of the fabric of regional Australia, showcasing everything positive about our communities and local industries,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“These shows are estimated to contribute $1 billion to the economy each year and attract 6 million patrons annually, supported by 50,000 volunteers."

“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.”

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said 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 related cancellation of agricultural shows.

“This funding supports not only the big Royal Shows in each capital but right down to the small country show, because we acknowledge the role shows play in connecting agriculture and regional Australia to metropolitan Australians,” Minister Littleproud said.

“There is a real risk that if we don’t help that 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."

“In addition, $100,000 will go towards supporting the Agricultural Shows Australia rural ambassador program, which will enable the vital community work the ambassadors perform in regional Australia to continue."

Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, said eligible local shows in his electorate could receive a reimbursement of up to $70,000 under the Supporting Agricultural Shows program.

“This is fantastic news for our many hardworking show society volunteers who because of COVID-19 were unable to stage a show for their communities this year,” Barnaby Joyce said.

“Agricultural shows play an important civic role in many country towns so it’s integral we do as much as we can to keep them going during this time of need."

“The Government is reimbursing shows for costs incurred in 2020 and funds will be paid in 2021 and I encourage local show societies to check their eligibility and apply when the grants open.”

The $36 million Supporting Agricultural Shows program comprises three components:

  • $10 million in operational support for local show societies. Shows will be able to claim up to $10,000 if their attendance last year was less than 2,000, up to $15,000 if their attendance was between 2,000 and 4,999 and up to $70,000 if their attendance was over 5,000.
  • $26 million in operational support for Royal Agricultural Show societies which can additionally to claim for unrecoverable costs associated with preparing for the cancelled show.
  • $100,000 in operational support for Agricultural Shows Australia’s Rural ambassador program.

All agricultural shows that have cancelled their show in 2020 because of COVID-19 will be eligible and they will not have to compete for assistance.

Eligible reimbursement costs are expected to include: Bank fees, utilities, rates, insurance, fire alarms and equipment, cleaning supplies, telecommunications, IT system licencing costs, website costs, state/national show body affiliation fees and rent.

For more information on the Fund, visit https://www.regional.gov.au/regional/programs/covid-19-relief-and-recovery-fund.aspx.

Image credit: Grant Broadcasters/Jessica Rouse