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$500M Ag Bill Targets Fairs


Published: Friday, August 14, 2020

Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) and Congressman Billy Long (R-Mo.) have introduced H.R 7883, the Agricultural Fairs Rescue Act, in the U.S. House of Representatives to help preserve agricultural fairs across the country and offset the devastating financial losses they have experienced due to COVID-19. The Agricultural Fairs Rescue Act will provide grant funding for agricultural fairs through state departments of agriculture to keep them functioning and preserve them for the future.

The legislation provides $500 million in Agricultural Fair Rescue Grants to agricultural fairs, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service. The AMS will provide the grant funding to states or state departments of agriculture based on the loss of attendance those fairs have experienced in 2020.

According to the International Assn. of Fairs and Expositions, each year the operation of agricultural fairs results in $4.67 billion for the U.S. economy and supports thousands of jobs. About 2,000 fairs are held in North America each year.

State and county fairs are a primary source for the promotion of U.S. agribusiness. They exhibit the equipment and animals associated with agriculture and animal husbandry, and livestock shows are prominent at many state fairs.

Fairs also encourage and develop the next generation of America's food producers. Agricultural producers in rural America represent less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, and with the average age of a farmer being 57 years old, it is imperative to engage and encourage young people to pursue agricultural careers.

"The agricultural fairs across the United States serve vital community purposes. Besides the social and cultural impact, fairs provide the future leaders of this country—the 4-H and FFA members—with vital leadership skills development. Additionally, the economic impact to each community is significant. In the majority of communities, the fairgrounds serves as critical infrastructure in times of need—fire camps, hurricane and tornado shelters for humans and animals—and never more evident than now with many serving as COVID-19 testing sites, temporary hospitals, quarantine shelters, food distribution sites, and temporary polling places. We thank Congressmen Panetta and Long for introducing the Agricultural Fairs Research Act and for working to preserve America's fairs," said Marla Calico, president and CEO, International Assn. of Fairs and Expositions.

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