Representatives of local agricultural shows are to receive Letters of Offer (LoO) totalling Pound 103,707 under the Bounce Back Support Scheme, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA has announced.
The Bounce Back Support Scheme was developed to aid agricultural shows return in 2022 following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Announcing that LoO are due to issue, Minister Poots said: "In March 2022 I initiated a Bounce Back Support Scheme to help our local agricultural shows get back on the road following the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Having attended local shows throughout the past few months and witnessed the tremendous effort and passion demonstrated by members and volunteers, along with the large numbers in attendance, I am pleased that Letters of Offer, totalling over Pound 100,000, will soon begin to issue.
"Local shows play a vital role in showcasing our excellent agri-food produce and supporting our rural communities, and this funding will provide a foundation for shows to continue to play this vital role.
"As an additional package of support, my Department offered six local shows total funding of Pound 33,242 under the NI Regional Food Programme to assist with the promotion and showcasing of quality regional food at the shows. This support helped to highlight the quality, sustainability and reputation of the food that is produced on local farms and by local producers."
Minister Poots has urged show representatives to follow all guidance outlined in the LoO. He added: "Upon receipt of a Letter of Offer, I would urge representatives to read it carefully and follow guidance contained therein, paying particular attention to the requirement to respond by 30 September 2022 in order to progress to the final stage of funding being released."
Welcoming the issuing of Letters of Offer, Chairman of the NI Shows Association (NISA), Graham Furey said: "On behalf of our local agricultural shows, I very much welcome that representatives will begin to receive Letters of Offer for this much needed funding.
"Our local shows have a long tradition of supporting our agri-food sector and rural communities. This year has been very challenging for all our volunteers and committee members. The prospect of funding from DAERA encouraged many show committees to go ahead with organising their shows this year and we are pleased to note that this funding can now be claimed via the DAERA bounce back scheme.
"I would like to pay tribute to the hard work and dedication shown by all in helping the shows bounce back from the Covid pandemic and also to the members of the public who supported the shows with their attendance."
Providing an update on the independent review of agricultural shows, Minister Poots added: "In May 2022 I appointed Mr Aled Rhys Jones, from Wales, to carry out an independent resilience review of our show sector.
"I'm pleased to say that Mr Jones travelled to Northern Ireland and met with a number of show representatives to inform his Review and has now presented his final Report to the Department. Officials and I will now consider any recommendations as to the best way forward in continuing to support our local shows."