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13 October 2021
Member for Lowan Emma Kealy has implored the State Government to provide greater support for major regional agricultural events forced off the calendar due to COVID-19.
She said events such as Wimmera Machinery Field Days – Victoria’s longest-running field days – and Hamilton’s Sheepvention were an important part of the year for farmers and businesses alike.
“Like so many things in 2020 and 2021, COVID restrictions cruelled any chance of the events being able to run,” she said.
“Sheepvention, which normally runs in August each year, could not run in 2020 due to statewide lockdown, and this year organisers were forced to cancel due to the uncertainty about whether restrictions would lift sufficiently for the event to be able to cover costs.
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“The Wimmera Machinery Field Days committee was in the same position, making the difficult call last winter to cancel the 2021 event set for March.”
Ms Kealy said the State Government had largely ignored these events despite the opportunity they provided for thousands of people to meet with fellow farmers and industry people, and the huge economic injection they gave regional communities.
“If these events had access to guaranteed government funding support, they would most likely have been able to run in some capacity in 2021,” she said.
“But because of the lack of certainty with continual lockdowns and restrictions, organisers’ hands were forced and both events were off the calendar.”
Ms Kealy said the State Government had recognised the value of events such as conferences and exhibitions through grant streams to help businesses cover the costs associated with participating in such events.
But she said while businesses could seek support towards site costs, hire costs, staff travel and accommodation for such events, the events themselves were overlooked.
“It’s time the government realised just how crucial these events are for our agricultural and rural communities and ensure events such as the Wimmera Machinery Field Days and Sheepvention have the funding, and subsequently the certainty they need to be able to continue to be fixtures in our local communities for many years to come,” Ms Kealy said.
The entire October 13, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!