Following devastating financial losses for fairs across the country this spring and summer, congressmen introduced a bill that would offer $500 million in grants to fairs across the country in the U.S. House of Representatives July 30.
The grant money from the Agricultural Fairs Rescue Act would go to states and state departments of agriculture, based on revenue and attendance losses that fairs lose this year. Reps. Jimmy Panetta (D-California) and Billy Long (R-Missouri) introduced the bill.
“Our fairs have suffered very substantial, if not devastating, losses due to COVID-19,” Long said in a press release.
Several fairs and fair organizations supported the bill, including the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, and the International Association of Fairs & Expositions.
“In the majority of communities the fairgrounds serves as critical infrastructure in times of need,” said Marla Calico, president and chief executive officer for the International Association of Fairs & Expositions, in a press release.
Calico said that since the pandemic began, many fairgrounds have been used for things like COVID-19 testing and food distribution.
The bill was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture.
This bill follows a July 22 letter, in which 15 congressmen, including Long and Panetta, asked U.S. House of Representatives leaders to consider including fairs in any future COVID-19 relief bills.
The letter said that the International Association of Fairs and Expositions estimates that fairs have lost more than $3.7 billion in revenue this year so far, due to fair and other event cancellations. Projections suggest that more than 80% of fairs in the country will be canceled this year.
The letter also said that fairs are important for agribusiness.
“By cultivating a passion for agriculture in students and supporting beginning farmers and ranchers, fairs help build the future of agriculture,” the letter reads.
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