Mixed messages from autumn agricultural show organisers

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has had to cancel its annual flagship event for October 2020. However, organisers of a major international agricultural show to be held in France the same month insist the show will go on.

NSA Sheep Event 2020, had originally been planned to take place in July but hopes were still in place for the show to go on at a later date in October.

However, organisers made the decision today (June 30) to cancel the event for 2020.

A statement from the NSA read: “Like so many other events, the difficult decision has now been made to cancel the event entirely for this year. This is due to the ongoing restrictions and concerns surrounding Coronavirus (Covid-19), and after taking careful account of the latest Government and Public Health guidance.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “All at NSA are so disappointed to have to cancel our most popular of events.

“We recognise the event provides the opportunity for the sheep farming community to come together for a valuable day of knowledge exchange, a chance to view new and innovative products and to enjoy an opportunity to catch up with friends.

“But the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and uncertainty surrounding it have unfortunately left us with no choice but to cancel the event this year.”

The national event will now return to its usual home at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire in 2022, as a biennial event on Wednesday, July 27, 2022.

In the meantime, the NSA is now planning new and different ways to deliver some of the seminars, workshops and more, that visitors would have enjoyed at the event via webinars and virtual activities.

NSA Sheep Event organiser Helen Roberts said: “We are immensely disappointed to cancel Sheep 2020 but we are now working on some really interesting plans to keep our work with the sheep industry alive until we can get back to more normal times.

Thinking about this positively, we may not be able to do a one-day event, but our emerging plans could be seen as a forthcoming ‘season for sheep farming’.

“Most of our plans will offer opportunities for trade, breed societies, and other interested organisations to be involved, to promote their products and offers to the industry.

“The changes that sheep farming is facing will not be put on hold until we can get back together face-to-face, and it is crucial that we press forward, hopefully with the support of the sector to help our industry through what is a challenging time and to make sure we capitalise on the opportunities ahead.”

What are organisers saying?

It comes just a day after Holstein UK announced it was to cancel this year’s UK Dairy Day. The event had been planned for September 16.

However, organisers for Sommet de l’Élevage (Livestock Summit) have taken the opposite stance, issuing a statement today boldy declaring the event would still proceed.

“Given the latest French government announcements, we can confirm that the Sommet de l’Élevage, Europe’s leading livestock show, will be open for business, October 7-9 in Clermont-Ferrand, France.

“While continuing to monitor the situation, we note the recent progress in the fight to overcome the Covid-19 epidemic in France. As a result of which, the Sommet de l’Élevage will be held on its scheduled dates.

“We are currently working hard and hand-in-hand with the local and national authorities as to the measures that we need to put in place to guarantee the health and safety of all our participants.

“Though these conditions are not final at this point in time, we will, as soon as possible, be informing all our exhibitors and visitors.

Should it proceed, the Sommet will be one of the few agricultural shows to be held in Europe this year.

Organisers say that despite uncertainty over some other events, they have had a lot of interest from trade exhibitors.

“Since the end of the lockdown period, every day we are taking more and more stand bookings from new exhibitors,” a spokesman said.

“We, therefore, encourage all companies who wish to participate in this great professional exhibition to contact us very quickly.”