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Stackyard News Jul 06

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Royal Show 2006 delivers rural vision

The 2006 Royal Show marked a turning point for UK agriculture, according to its organisers.

royal show

Despite a heat wave and an associated nationwide slow-down in retail spending of 11% visitor numbers fell by just 5% to 141,308.

The 7000 drop, thought to be equally divided between farmers and other rural visitors, is attributed to record temperatures that reached the low nineties (33 degrees Celsius) and triggered an official Department of Health heat wave warning.

“It’s not surprising that some of our anticipated audience stayed away as the media warned of the effects of the heat and sun,” said Haymarket Land Events managing director Dominique Gill.

“But we were delighted with this year’s Royal Show and I am indebted to all those who worked with us to stage it this year,” explained Mrs Gill. “We made changes to the format and to the content and, although there is always fine-tuning to be addressed, exhibitors and visitors reported a very satisfying outcome.

“One element that was outstanding was the quality of the livestock on show. The entries were up by 200 on last year, and we have received many comments about the magnificent standard of the cattle, sheep and pigs on show. All credit is due to the exhibitors and stockspeople who turned out superb animals in very trying conditions. The excellence of the cattle we witnessed in the Champions Parade in the Grand Ring shows that the Royal Show has retained its title as the premier agricultural show.

“The Royal Show is a terrific institution and remains an important source of information as we move into an era without subsidies; an era where environmental concerns often appear as important as commercial cropping and livestock production; an era where many new landowners are starting up farming businesses or smallholdings; a time when what we see as alternative crops today may become the norm tomorrow; where consolidation and encouraging a new generation of farmers into a restructured, more dynamic industry is the aim.

“Nowhere was this more evident than the Royal Show conferences, which proved to be hugely successful. There was a full house on all four days, with standing room only on some. From the impact of climate change on agriculture to the opportunities for young people in the industry, we tackled the issues that really matter in our rural communities, and the strong attendance shows just how valuable delegates found the programme and the show’s vital role in providing a platform for the industry.

“What we have witnessed at Royal Show 2006 has been a great turning point for UK Agriculture, and it is heading in the right direction.

“Major politicians came to the Royal Show this year and set their road map for the future. We are now seeing a public yearning to know more about the source of their food – and Westminster now knows that. MPs came to Stoneleigh not to preach but to listen; not to lecture but to learn.

“The platform that we have provided through the Royal Show for policy-makers to glean the information they need about farming and our rural way of life is unique. The fact that they used that platform to announce their vision for the future is perhaps one aspect that is most valuable and of which I am most proud,” said Mrs Gill.

“We now have a lot to look forward to in an industry with a bright future based on rural communities that can thrive with farming at their heart. I look forward to Royal Show 2007 where we can provide the platform to showcase the realities of this positive vision.”

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