Commercial Champion with Micheal Keogh with Helen, Robert, Janet and Robert Poter PICTURE: MICHELLE GHEE
Michael Ring, Minister for Rural and Community Development, has announced funding of €600,000 for Agricultural Shows around the country.
This allocation will fund approximately 120 shows due to take place in 2020, with each qualifying show receiving a payment of approximately €5,000 to support these important events in rural communities.
The investment is being administered through the Irish Shows Association (ISA) and the recipients are all members of that Association. It is intended that the funding will help the Agricultural Shows to meet the financial challenge associated with delivering their events.
Minister Ring said,“Agricultural shows are a great celebration of rural Ireland and they are an integral part of our culture. The shows provide a welcome boost for local economies and attract visitors to enjoy our rural towns and villages at their best.
“This is an investment in rural communities and in the rural economy. I know that this funding will provide a huge boost to the agricultural shows that are such an integral part of our rural culture. They are a showcase for local communities and for all that is good about rural Ireland.
“The funding I am allocating will be a huge boost for these shows and it is a fitting recognition of the valuable contribution they make to the economies and communities of rural Ireland. The €600,000 I am providing for the shows builds on funding of €1.4 million which I have provided to the Agricultural Shows over the last two years.
“The Agricultural Shows are a much cherished fixture in the rural calendar. I have seen the impact of the funding at the many shows I have visited this summer. The shows have something for everyone. It’s not all about livestock; there is entertainment, competitions, craft fairs, cookery and other demonstrations and competitions.”
Welcoming the funding, Peter Burke, TD said this news is especially good for smaller shows.
He stated, “We have seen over the last few decades the struggle that smaller shows have had with attracting crowds and remaining financially viable. These are the shows that must be supported.
“We have hugely popular shows here with the Longford Show and County Fair and the Granard Agri Show. Agricultural shows are a fantastic feature of rural communities and we must support them as a commitment to farming and agriculture.
“This pro-rata investment is a welcome move and a good use of government resources, with show management best placed to know where resources are needed,”
Burke, who was raised on a suckler farm and continues to farm with his father Peter Senior, said although the funding is welcome, noted that it won’t cover all expenses.
He said, “We have also seen in recent years how bad weather has had a hugely detrimental effect on agricultural shows, with the success of a year’s work often depending on a good spell of dry weather.
“This year we had good luck and our shows were extremely well attended, especially here in Longford where we had huge crowds this year. The Minister has allocated €600,000, which builds on the €1.4 million which has been provided as a new policy by this government over the last two years.
"It is positive to see investment in the agricultural industry, especially in these times.
“While shows are wholly dependent on volunteer efforts and community spirits, there are also unavoidable expenses such as advertising and printing, ambulance cover, rosettes and trophies, and expenses for judges.
“This money won’t cover all of this of course but will contribute overall and I will be lobbying to have this donation installed as an annual payment from the department”.
In conclusion, Minister Ring praised the commitment of show volunteers and lauded agricultural shows as a celebration of local heritage.
He stated, “The commitment of local volunteers makes it possible for these shows to take place year on year. I’m delighted to be able to acknowledge the hard work, commitment and dedication that goes into every show and I’m pleased that the Irish Shows Association has once again agreed to work with my Department to administer the funding.
“These shows are a real celebration of local heritage. I’m delighted to be supporting this opportunity to celebrate and shine a spotlight on the best that local people and their communities have to offer visitors from near and far.”