Every agricultural show should have its own food village

Irish Shows Association President Jim Harrison is calling on all agricultural show societies to include a food village as part of their future development plans. He made these comments while attending yesterday’s Tullamore Show. These envisaged exhibition areas would provide local food companies with a specific focal point, allowing them to specifically differentiate themselves and their product ranges in a professional manner.

And he is absolutely right in putting forward this suggestion. Farming and food have always been joined at the hip – with one depending on the other. Add to this the fundamental fact that our agricultural shows continue to grow in popularity with the general public and it’s hard not to conclude that these events should become important shop windows for local food companies.

There is ample consumer research to confirm that the general public want to know more about how their food is produced. As every generation passes, the link back to the land within most families becomes that more tenuous. Given this background there is an onus on the farming and food sectors to explain how they both go about their business. And our local shows are an obvious conduit in allowing this to happen.

Mind you, it would be unfair to ask individual show societies to cover all of the investment costs required to include a state of the art food village. Surely the likes of the Department of Agriculture and Bord Bía could lend their support in this regard?

Despite the current difficulties within the beef sector and the uncertainty caused by Russia’s decision to ban EU food imports for 12 months, the farming and food industries are key drivers within the economy as a whole. And this trend is likely to gather further momentum during the period ahead.

Yes, we export 90% of the food we produce. But we must never forget the consumers on our own doorstep. And this is why the views expressed by Jim Harrison are so timely and relevant.