NI agricultural show companies deliver in spades

NI agricultural show companies deliver in spades
NI agricultural show companies deliver in spades

Opinion: NI agricultural show companies deliver in spades

September 1, 2022, 12:30 p.m.

Northern Ireland’s local agricultural show season for 2022 is now in the rearview mirror. And what a great year it has been.

Everyone involved in all events can look back on those past few months with an immense degree of satisfaction and pleasure.

My absolute highlight of the year was the highlight of the Beef Interbreed Championship class at Clogher. The event saw County Fermanagh’s Herbie Crawford celebrate 71 years of cattle showing with a famous victory.

He won the championship with a seven-month-old bull calf from Limousin Rathkeeland Tommy. Sired by the famous bull West Omaha Pitthe young animal was still on its mother at the time of the show.

But it is time to look to the future. The Northern Ireland Shows Association (NISA) has clearly demonstrated that its society members have a role to play at the very heart of the agricultural and food sectors. But they need support.

Support for agricultural show companies

Hopefully the review of local shows, currently underway, concludes with firm recommendations on how these events can be adapted to further highlight the role of agriculture and food at the very heart of the economy of Northern Ireland.

In my view, this will require a strong commitment from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), which officially recognizes the need to fund the shows in a way that complements their undoubted strengths.

Yes, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has already committed to a £200,000 pandemic-related support fund. But that’s just a band-aid, in the grand scheme of things, when it comes to the needs of agricultural shows.

The Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS) also has a heavy responsibility to further promote and support all local exhibitions.

No one doubts that the annual Balmoral Show will survive and thrive into the future. But I would say that such a result can only be achieved through a dynamic network of local shows.

Symbiosis is the word that most immediately comes to mind in this context.

Some skeptics might suggest that local agricultural fairs should be able to stand on their own two feet, financially.

However, this view of things is totally unfair. These same organizations already rely on hundreds of volunteers – totally unpaid – to help organize their respective events each year. The savings they achieve in this regard are more than considerable.

It all boils down to one very basic point – DAERA must formally recognize the fundamental role played by NISA and then commit to supporting member companies of this organization on an equitable basis.

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. agricultural show companies deliver spades

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