Victoria’s agricultural shows and field days are desperate for a financial lifeline to ensure their survival into next year as COVID uncertainty continues to force more cancellations.
Shows at Maffra, Colac, Cobram, Nhill, Warracknabeal, Sunbury and Berrigan are among those to cancel the 2021 events, with more expected to follow.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said the cancellations left many of the volunteer-run events, which had already recorded hefty losses in 2020, at risk of disappearing entirely.
“Our iconic ag shows and field days are a prime opportunity for our farmers and farm businesses to connect to improve their productivity and profitability,” Mr Walsh said.
“Cancellation of the Royal Melbourne Show has also torpedoed an important opportunity for producers and breeders to showcase their work to the community and among potential buyers.
“The future of these events is in doubt with the Andrews Labor Government still refusing to come to the table with extra support to recover from losses in 2020 and 2021.”
The cancellations are estimated to have stripped more than $200 million from the local economy of our rural communities.
“Ag societies are doing their best to survive, but they can’t do it alone,” Mr Walsh said.
“Financial support will help to make up the cost of cancelling these events, but while we work to get vaccination rates up in our community, we must do more to give our major events certainty.
“Rolling out rapid testing is one way we can help our major events sector move forward and can work in tandem with COVID Safe Plans and PCR testing to allow people to come together.
“But the Andrews Labor Government is guilty of having no plan for Victoria’s major events sector to recover.”