DAERA are failing local agriculture shows: Dodds

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POLITICAL OPINION - This item has been submitted by DUP MLA Diane Dodds.DUP MLA Diane Dodds shares her concerns for the future of local agriculture shows and the need for urgent action by DAERA after attending a meeting hosted by the Northern Ireland Shows Association.

Diane Dodds DUP MLA, said: “I recently met with the Northern Ireland Shows Association (NISA) who are extremely concerned for the future of rural agriculture shows and how DAERA are failing to provide financial support in the face of rising costs.

Agriculture shows are part and parcel of rural life and for many the social event of the year. From young farmer competitions to the prize for best dressed man or woman. The variety and reach is like nothing else in these areas. The back-bone of these shows are dedicated volunteers and lots of hard work. In many cases gate fees, sponsorship and trade stands which at best barely cover the costs, with many shows now operating at a deficit.

DAERA are well aware of the position facing shows, with financial support of over £100,000 provided to help shows recover the fall out of Covid 19. However, the need for long term support was also identified and recommendations made via a DAERA funded report; “Independent Resilience Review of Agricultural Shows in Northern Ireland.”

Diane Dodds MLA with representatives from NISADiane Dodds MLA with representatives from NISA
Diane Dodds MLA with representatives from NISA

Unfortunately this report was carried out in 2022 and nearly two years later little has changed. I fear that DAERA will continue to dither and delay meaning rural shows will disappear. DAERA will have presided over the death of the local agriculture show which will have a knock on impact on the cohesion of rural communities leading to even greater levels of rural isolation.

I have asked DAERA for an urgent update on their commitment to agriculture shows and I await their response. The message from Saturday’s meeting was one of despair and without long term support from DAERA many will disappear!”