The National Ploughing Association (NPA) executive has announced the “difficult decision” it has made to cancel the 2021 trade exhibition.

The executive said that this decision follows months of monitoring the Covid-19 status and taking into account the government’s updated roadmap for the next few months.

Th executive said that “given the sheer scale of the Ploughing with 297,000 attendees in 2019 and the lack of clarity about what Covid-19 restrictions and regulations will look like in September for outdoor events, it was felt that cancelling the 1,700 trade exhibitor event was the only option”. 

The Ploughing was due to take place from September 15 to 18 in Ratheniska, Co. Laois.

The association said that public health and safety is paramount, and “unless the NPA [was] confident the trade exhibition could go ahead without causing any risk to exhibitors, competitors and visitors, it would not be feasible”. 

“As the timeline to start site works is imminent – the NPA just could not wait any longer to make a decision.”

World Ploughing Contest cancelled

The World Ploughing Contest due to be held in Ireland to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the championships has also been cancelled given the extent of current international travel restrictions.

The NPA managing director Anna May McHugh said it’s a massive disappointment to the association to have to cancel the exhibition two years in a row, “in particular when you consider the estimated annual economic impact of €50 million that will be lost to the Irish economy”.  

“We are very conscious of the loss of revenue for our exhibitors and the disappointment of patrons,” she said.

“However, the NPA is a strong establishment, we have a massively committed team behind the event, our exhibitors and our patrons have been very loyal over the years and we look forward to bringing the exhibition back at its full potential in 2022.”

The national ploughing competitions will still take place, and the NPA is hoping to welcome some visitors, pending regulations.

The NPA plans to build a programme of activities around the ploughing competitions that will keep the focus on rural Ireland during ‘Ploughing week’.

The NPA has also confirmed that the event will return to Ratheniska in 2022 from September 20 to 22, when it looks “forward to enjoying the Ploughing as usual”.