The Coalition Government is delivering on an election promise to help ensure Australia’s regional communities can keep staging great local agricultural shows for decades to come.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said applications were now open for the Regional Agricultural Show Development Grants (AgShows) Program, a $20 million investment to reinvigorate showgrounds and help boost regional communities.
“Agricultural shows are at the heart and soul of our regional communities. They bring communities together and they keep communities together,” the Prime Minister said.
“Agricultural shows are also important events that encourage people from cities and regional centres to better understand where their food and fibre comes from. For so many areas tackling drought at the moment Agricultural shows are an important investment in local communities including through the tourism they can attract.
“This is important because agriculture is part of the success of our nation.
“Even the most skilled and hardworking community volunteers can’t keep a show going alone. You need support, and you need proper infrastructure.
“This $20 million investment will keep our agricultural shows going and support communities coming together.
“The Government will continue to support our regions and the wonderful volunteers who make agricultural shows what they are,” the Prime Minister said.
Local show societies and state and territory agricultural show peak bodies could be eligible to receive grants of up to $500,000 to upgrade, maintain, buy or build new showground infrastructure and attractions.
This funding is in addition to the $720,000 the Coalition Government is providing to Agricultural Shows Australia to use the agricultural show network to promote the value and role of farmers.
Agriculture Minister Senator Bridget McKenzie said agricultural shows were part of our national identity and significant cultural and economic contributors to hundreds of communities across Australia.
“They showcase the pinnacle and pride of local produce that often spans generations of tradition and know-how,” Minister McKenzie said.
“From farmers, school kids and home cooking experts, to local ag businesses, volunteer groups and emergency services personnel—everyone loves their local show.
“Most of the 580 agricultural shows held annually in Australia are regionally based and they bring communities closer together especially in times of drought and other hardships.
“They’re also an important way to connect people living in the city with farming.
“People need to understand how their food is produced. It’s one way to open their eyes to career opportunities in what is a high-tech, 21st century sector.
“But we know that showgrounds regularly face challenges of ageing infrastructure and expensive repair bills.
“AgShows is about ensuring these communities can continue staging their local shows—and other events such as pony clubs and farmers markets—for many years to come.”
Grants could be used for repairs or upgrades of existing showground facilities such as outdoor seating, new infrastructure such as a grandstand, assets like portable sheep holding yards or attractions such as an agricultural virtual reality exhibit.
Applications open today (4 October) and close 13 December 2019, with successful applicants expected to be announced in the first half of 2020.
“I also encourage local councils and owners of showgrounds to support their regional agricultural show societies in their applications for grants,” Minister McKenzie said.