The COVID-19 lockdown has brought a new loss to the farming community. It has been business as usual for many farmers in recent weeks, with the lack of rain perhaps becoming a major focus as they get on with the job of producing crops and looking after their livestock. Now the cancellation of most agricultural shows and farming events in the UK is set to affect farmers and rural communities across the length and breadth of the UK. Although not bringing the same economic or tragic consequences, a lack of shows will mean a [significant]financial loss for many businesses
These include events like the Royal Highland Show and the Great Yorkshire Show, which would see some 195,000 and 135,000 visitors respectively. Some of the more local or specialised events such as Cereals, NBA Beef Expo and NSA Scot Sheep showcase and support particular sectors of agriculture.
This year, everyone will be missing out as Brian Richardson, UK Head of Agriculture for Yorkshire and Clydesdale Bank (owned by Virgin Money UK), explains.
“These annual events showcase the best in farming and food and bring as much celebration as they do trading platforms for businesses. The size and scale of the multi-day events deliver key economic benefits to the thousands of exhibitors and agricultural producers who attend, as well as the wider sector in general. This year, it is perhaps the social aspect that will be one of the biggest loss to the farming community.
“Farming can be a lonely job at the best of times, so agricultural shows are a real chance to get out, socialise and make connections with other like-minded folk.”
Farmers are normally tied up on their own farms dealing with livestock and crops, these events provide a welcome break and are opportunities to build relationships and get to know suppliers, face-to-face. They also give hands-on access to the latest industry information, trends, and technology providing a real showcase for the industry. Everyone understands the necessary reasons behind these cancellations, but they are integral to the farming scene.
Mr Richardson continues: “Our Agricultural Managers across the UK look forward to these events as it gives them the chance to catch up with customers and nurture professional relationships. With face-to-face contact restricted, there will be reduced opportunities to connect and collaborate.”
Even though these showcases will be sorely missed, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Bank’s specialist Agricultural Team has been working hard for customers to ensure they have what they need and helping them to plan for the next few months. To ensure contact is maintained, where possible, virtual platforms such as Teams and Facetime are being utilised.
Mr Richardson continues, “Of course, it does not quite make up for leaning against the sheep pens for a chat at the local show. Sharing experiences are vital components of agriculture and the shows support mental wellbeing, so at the moment keeping in touch and looking out for each other is critical for our farming and rural community.
“I certainly won’t be the only one who will miss the shows over the summer months, but I am sure they will be back even stronger next year. In the meantime, we are dedicated to keeping in contact with our customers across the UK through all other available means!”
Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank, has a long history and heritage in providing finance and support to farmers across the UK. Lending to the farming and wider food sector is a high priority area and a significant part of its portfolio.
The farming community requires specialist support for their businesses and to underpin this, the Bank has a dedicated and highly experienced team of specialist regional agricultural managers with an in-depth knowledge of the sector. Built up of many years, the close relations this team has with customers is proving to be invaluable in supporting their network of UK farming businesses.