IN response to the article written by WAFarmers chief executive officer Trevor Whittingon, 'Policy setting needs some inspiration', Farm Weekly, May 9, 2019.
Trevor it's a shame your cynicism around election promises has led to misconceptions and inaccuracies around the importance and value of agricultural societies and shows across the country.
You accurately state that there are about 580 shows in Australia each year but fail to further emphasise that they are the largest community events in the country, attracting more than one in four patrons and injecting about $900 million in the Australian economy each year.
At least in the 2019 Federal election the agricultural show movement has attracted some committed funding and a range of electoral promises following persistent approaches from Agricultural Shows Australia (ASA), the newly formed overarching body representing both the large shows, along with regional and country shows.
Three important projects funded under the Building Landcare Community and Capacity program will support the development of the national Young Judges and Paraders program, the national NextGen organisation and the Young Farmers Challenge and an educational project to encourage the development and use of resources for interactive exhibits and displays at shows that demonstrates how food is produced and the value of sustainable agri-food production.
The $20m promised support is not, as you suggest "to spruce up the main entrance of the showgrounds", but to provide much needed financial support for the many agricultural societies to maintain, repair or even build new facilities and infrastructure for the now the common situation of old, unsuitable or unsafe facilities.
Remember that all these societies and shows are run by volunteers and rely mostly on community support to finance and undertake some of these necessary tasks.
Finally your assertion that "Royal Shows are for the four to 11-year-olds" is plainly inaccurate and as I know you are a regular visitor to the Perth Royal Show, you would recognise how ridiculous that comment is.
The data recorded on the demographics of patrons visiting, not just the Perth Royal Show, but all the large shows, demonstrates the diversity of age, gender and nationality - the nature of the exhibits and entertainment now being offered across shows has markedly broadened age-groups attending and especially for young and extended families.
Perhaps Trevor, in a previous life, you could be guilty yourself of promoting 'donkey voting political rubbish', but deep down you do recognise the lasting iconic nature and value of agricultural shows to rural and regional communities across the nation, and that they may require government assistance from time-to-time.
I think you owe me a coffee.
- Dr Rob Wilson is the chairman of Agricultural Shows Australia.