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Media Advisory

For Immediate ReleaseContact:

August 3, 2020

The Agricultural Fairs Rescue Act

Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20) and Congressman Billy Long (R-MO-07) haveintroduced 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 (AMS). 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.

“County and local fairs are very important to agriculture and our communities all across our country. Fairs provide our producers with the opportunity to market their crops and livestock, and foster the next generation of farmers. They also are an economic engine and a gathering place for us to highlight and celebrate our communities. Like many institutions, fairs have been impacted by COVID-19, and we must provide them assistance if we are going to preserve these fairs for the future,” said Congressman Panetta.

“It is rare indeed if a person doesn’t have fond childhood memories of their county and state fairs. Fairs play a vital role in U.S. agribusiness by supporting thousands of jobs and giving farmers a way to promote their products. Our fairs have suffered very substantial, if not devastating, losses due to COVID-19. I am proud to work with my colleague and buddy, Congressman Jimmy Panetta, to introduce legislation that offers critical and strategic relief to a vulnerable industry in dire need of our assistance," said Congressman Long.

Insert a quote from your leadership on how COVID is affecting your fairs/organization.

“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 & CEO, International Association of Fairs & Expositions (IAFE).

“Not only do county and local fairs serve a vital education and economic role, they provide families with high value entertainment close to home,” says Greg Chiecko, President of the Outdoor Amusement Business Association (OABA), and he continued, “Some of the funds they generate support important youth opportunities in local communities.”

According to the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE), 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, and large fairs can admit more than a million visitors over the course of a week or two.

Fairs, like so many other industries in the U.S., have suffered tremendous financial losses as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. IAFE estimates a loss of gross revenue exceeding $3.7 billion to fair organizations so far this year based upon the cancellation of facility events and their annual fair.

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% 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.

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