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 had not helped 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 would 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.
“I encourage my State and Territory counterparts to also make a contribution to help agricultural shows survive the impact of COVID-19 because of the positive impact they have on their economies.”
Local agricultural show societies in the electorate of Leichhardt could be eligible for a share of $10 million in Australian Government one-off payments to help them recover from the impacts of cancellations due to COVID-19.
Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said eligible local shows could receive a reimbursement of up to $70,000 under the Supporting Agricultural Shows program.
“This is fantastic news for the our many hardworking show society volunteers who because of COVID-19 were unable to stage a show for their communities this year,” Warren Entsch said.
“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 Supporting Agricultural Shows program also provides $100,000 to Agricultural Shows Australia (ASA) for its National Rural Ambassador competition in 2020 and 2021.
This funding complements the Australian Government’s existing $20 million Regional Agricultural Show Development Grants Program and will be provided under the $1 billion Relief and Recovery Fund, which is supporting regions, communities and industry sectors that have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus crisis.