Agricultural shows forced to cancel for the second year in a row because of the COVID-19 pandemic are being thrown another lifeline, Member for Riverina Michael McCormack says.
Mr McCormack said the Liberal and Nationals Government was delivering another $25 million through the Supporting Agricultural Shows and Field Days and Supporting Showmen and Women programs. The funding will provide operational support to agricultural shows and field days which were cancelled this year due to COVID-19 health measures as well as extending support for travelling showmen and women affected by show cancellations.
"Show committees right throughout the Riverina and Central West have had to make the heart breaking decision again this year to cancel their shows because of COVID but they still have fixed and unavoidable costs which, without income from the shows happening, can be tough to pay," Mr McCormack said.
"Last year, we delivered $351,221 to 22 Riverina and Central West show societies to get them through what we hoped was a one-off crisis, but as the pandemic ended plans for a return of shows this year there is a need for a second round of support.
"We have always said we will back our shows - we are doing it again and will continue to back them and help them through this crisis."
The Supporting Agricultural Shows and Field Days program will provide $21 million while the Supporting Showmen and Women will deliver $4 million.
Mr McCormack said the cancellation of more than 700 shows and field days across Australia since early 2020 had also harmed the local showmen and women, who were often small, independent, sole-traders or family-based operations who cannot absorb the costs. The Government provided $34.5 million under Round 1 of the Supporting Agricultural Shows and Field Days program to 378 show societies and field day organisers who cancelled in 2020.
"Agricultural shows and field days are supported by more than 50,000 volunteers and about 4,000 showmen and women," Mr McCormack said. "They make a significant social and economic contribution to the Riverina electorate and hundreds of Australian communities. They support farm innovation, and the productivity and profitability of our agricultural industries."
Mr McCormack said Round 2 funds would be available this financial year and details on how to apply for funding would be released shortly.