A number of farming events over the next month have been cancelled or postponed, following updated advice from the government that people should avoid mass gatherings due to coronavirus.
Grassland and Muck and the Pig and Poultry Fair, which were both due to take place in Warwickshire in May, have been cancelled.
In statements on Twitter, event organiser the Royal Agricultural Society of England said: ‘While we are sorry to have to make this announcement to cancel, it is the right decision to protect the health of the industry and indeed the wider population in these unprecedented circumstances.’
Meanwhile AHDB says it has ‘taken the difficult decision’ to cancel all of its events up to and including the 17th April. UK director of communications and market development Anna Farrell said: “We will be reviewing the position each Friday on a rolling weekly basis. Event pages are being kept up to date for the latest information.
“If you have already registered for an event that has been cancelled, we will contact you directly. We continue to review the situation and will advertise any events that we reschedule for later in the year.”
National Beef Association’s Beef Expo, due to take place on 28th May, has also been postponed until later in the summer. A spokesperson said NBA is consulting with event partners and will advise on a rescheduled date in the near future.
The news comes after National Farmers Union announced it would postpone its mass rally in London on 25th March, which would have seen hundreds of farmers gather in Westminster to call on the government to protect them from cheap imports in post-Brexit trade deals. NFU Scotland last week advised its membership not to hold any meetings or gatherings until further notice.
However, the Royal Cornwall Show, due to take place in June, will still go ahead but has been postponed until 10-12th September 2020. Event organisers said in a statement: ‘Following the Government’s guidance press conference on 12th March, it is clear that Covid-19 will still be very active within our communities during June, so we feel it is the most responsible action to reschedule to protect our visitors, traders and exhibitors from the spread of the virus.
‘Whilst we are aware that this is an extremely difficult decision to make and appreciate the disruption and disappointment the postponement may cause, it has been unanimously agreed that our absolute priorities must lie, at this time of uncertainty, with the protection of public health.’
Organisers will be in touch with those who have booked tickets or entered in due course, about their options to transfer bookings or secure refunds.
The NSA Sheep Event 2020 in Worcestershire is currently set to go ahead as planned on 28th July, but the National Sheep Association says it is reviewing the situation daily. A spokesperson said: “We are still accepting bookings for the event and hope the wider sheep industry will continue to support us during this period of uncertainty.
“If we need to postpone or cancel the event the decision will be based on reducing the risk to our members, staff, supporters and business operations. Until that time we will be putting in our best efforts to run a busy, buoyant and lively Sheep Event in July in celebration of the UK Sheep Industry. We hope we can all come together as an industry to support one another in these unprecedented times.”
LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) has also taken the inevitable, safe and sensible decision to postpone this year’s LEAF Open Farm Sunday (LOFS) event to Sunday 20th September 2020.
LEAF chief executive Caroline Drummond said: “We look forward to welcoming the public out onto farm at a different and interesting time of year to take pleasure from getting outside and celebrating farming, food and nature. We will continue to support farmers hosting an LOFS event in September and to encourage the public to visit a farm and discover the world of farming.”
The prime minister said yesterday (16th March) that everyone in the UK should avoid ‘non-essential’ travel and contact with others as the country’s death toll rose to 55. The public are advised to avoid gatherings and crowded places, work from home if possible and cease ‘unnecessary’ visits to care homes, though Boris Johnson has stopped short of forcing businesses to close.
It is expected that those with the most serious health conditions will be ‘largely shielded from social contact’ starting from next weekend, for around 12 weeks. Those who should take particular care to minimise social contact are people over 70, adults that are usually advised to take the flu vaccine and pregnant women.