Jacob Anthony: Cancelled shows a huge loss to communities

The full financial impact the Covid-19 pandemic will have on businesses is going to be felt for years to come.

By now, we are all aware of this, and many of us, not only in the agricultural sector, have already adapted our businesses the best we can.

I have a big long-term concern from a community perspective, though. The worry is that the virus could have lasting effects on farmers’ social and mental wellbeing.

See also: Jacob Anthony – I’m furious at MPs’ Agriculture Bill vote

Farming is renowned for being socially isolating, and on occasions, it can be a very lonely. We often find ourselves working or living in remote areas, with little chance of interaction with others.

Often, the only time farmers leave their workplace is to attend periodic stock sales, agricultural shows and local discussion groups.

For some, this is a rare opportunity to communicate with like-minded folks. These conversations offer a much-needed release from the pressures of everyday farming life.

However, all events that were planned so far this year have fallen victim to Covid-19 and there is a scary prospect some may never recover.

Strong community

The financial devastation that shows and events are facing is worrying.

The Royal Welsh Show – Europe’s largest agricultural show and one that attracts more than 250,000 people annually – only last month predicted that having to postpone July’s flagship summer show could potentially cost £1.2m and take up to five years to fully recover.

Similar proportionate figures are likely to be apparent for local shows across the country. As a strong agricultural community, it is imperative that we do all that we can to support these shows.

After all, they play an integral part in the farming calendar for so many reasons, including supporting people’s mental wellbeing.

Large-scale livestock breeding sales, such as the National Sheep Association Ram Sale in Builth Wells, are also cancelling their plans for this autumn.

As a result, many people are advertising livestock for sale online.

Buzz on sale day

Online sales have a place within our modernising world, but you cannot beat the buzz and interaction of buyers and sellers on sale day.

The same applies to weekly market meetings – the importance of farmers being able to see their hard work right through to the end cannot be underestimated.

All these events can have a really uplifting effect on the spirit of the farming community – you cannot put a price on this.

Let’s hope that by this time next year, all of our favourite events will be back in full swing.

I, for one, am certainly looking forward to a timely catch-up and beverage with friends at the Royal Welsh Show, as I’m sure many of you are too.