Luke, Jacob and Time Schmaling checking out one of the tractors at Bell Show, 2019.
Luke, Jacob and Time Schmaling checking out one of the tractors at Bell Show, 2019.

Regional shows receive $36m funding

OUR most popular local shows must and will go on thanks to a funding boost from the federal government, who want future regional shows to push on despite the challenges of COVID-19.

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 Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development minister Michael McCormack said the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt agricultural shows, with most expected to be cancelled for 2020.

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

Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management minister 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.

“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.”

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.

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.


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