AS the virtual Winter Fair gets underway today, the Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths has announced financial support of £200,000 for the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society for 2020-21.
The funding for Wales’ flagship and largest Agricultural event, the Royal Welsh Show, will help improve the environmental impact of the Society activities and support the resilience of the Society by covering some of the costs incurred as well as helping with the reinstatement of future events.
Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths said: “On the day we would traditionally have been gathering in Builth Wells for the opening day of the Winter Fair, I am pleased to announce a financial support package for the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society for 2020/21 reflecting the unprecedented circumstances they have faced this year.
“I have always said we are seeing the perfect storm as we face the twin challenges of Covid and the impact leaving the transition period brings. This funding will help support the RWAS resilience at this difficult time for the sector.”
Half of the £200,000 funding package will come from the Major events Budget.
Dafydd Elis-Thomas, the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, who has responsibility for major events, said: “It is important we support major events through these challenging times, so they are still there when we begin returning to normal after the coronavirus pandemic.
“We understand how crucial these shows are to the sector, not only helping them showcase Welsh produce but also building relationships with others from the agricultural industry, and we hope this funding provides the necessary support for them to plan for next year.”
Reflecting the importance of agricultural shows and the impact Covid19 has had with their cancellation this year, over the summer the Minister commissioned an independent resilience review of Agricultural Shows across Wales.
The review, carried out by Aled Jones, a Nuffield Scholar who completed an international study into the future of agricultural shows and societies, made a series of recommendations to support the resilience and reinstatement of agricultural shows next year.
The Minister has accepted all of the review’s recommendations.
The Minister has therefore today announced a new innovation fund to help show societies reinstate shows in 2021.
It will also provide an opportunity to consider efficiencies to improve engagement and provide a better experience for all competitors.
Other recommendations in the independent review include the need for Welsh Government to produce guidance for show organisers over the arrangements for staging events in 2021 in line with any public health restrictions.
Encouraging greater collaboration between shows through the Association of Shows and Agricultural Organisations (ASAO) and well as introducing structured training for individuals working or volunteering within the show societies were also recommended.
Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths, said: “Agricultural shows have a long and prestigious history and are at the centre of our rural communities. The Covid19 restrictions saw the cancellation of this year’s shows and this has had a serious impact on all societies and their future resilience.
“That is why I commissioned an independent resilience review of agricultural shows across Wales and help identify what support might be necessary. I would like to thank Aled for his work on the review and I am pleased to confirm I am accepting all recommendations.
“The new innovation fund will help support our Shows at this difficult time and help preparations to reinstate the shows for next season. Our agricultural shows have done really innovative things to hold virtual events this year. I want us to build on this and work together to ensure a strong future for our Shows in Wales.”
The Minister also announced over 81% of BPS 2020 claims have been processed for payment on the opening day of the payment window. The BPS Support Scheme application window closed on 27 November. Payments will be made from 7 December to those eligible farm businesses whose BPS 2020 claim has not been processed for payment.