The National Ploughing Association (NPA) is hopeful that financial support will be forthcoming from the government to meet the cost of hosting the World Ploughing Contest this year.

The competition was due to be held in Russian this year. However, due to that country’s invasion of Ukraine, the World Ploughing Organisation decided to change the host country, deciding only in April to award Ireland hosting rights.

The short lead-in time for the competition has put pressure on the NPA to organise and plan the event, resulting in the association incurring expenses that were not foreseen when planning the National Ploughing Championships.

Both the national and world events were officially launched on site in Ratheniska, Co. Laois yesterday (Tuesday, September 6). Speaking to Agriland at the event, NPA assistant managing director and World Ploughing Organisation general secretary Anna Marie McHugh outlined the additional workload involved.

“It’s been pretty crazy, particularly considering the short lead-in time we’ve had. It was only identified [this year] that we were going to host the world contest. The event had to be cancelled in Russia, so we got the opportunity of hosting it,” McHugh said.

She added: “We’re still planning, I won’t say we’re not. The finer details are still happening back at the office, and there’s more to happen. But it’s very exciting. We’ve put a great programme together for the visitors.

“Once the event is all over and finished we will certainly be talking to the government and trying to get some support for the international element of the event.”

Laois-Offaly TD and Minister for State at the Department of Finance, Sean Fleming, was also at yesterday’s launch. He explained that work was underway to support the NPA in hosting the World Ploughing Contest this year.

Speaking to Agriland, he noted that the NPA has to meet the cost for the accommodation, transport and facilities of delegations from other countries.

“The NPA would have put its proposal to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine for a new event that wouldn’t have been foreseen or planned. Minister [Charlie] McConalogue signed off on that…but it had to get clearance from the Department of Public Expenditure, because this expenditure wasn’t included in the estimates for any government department for this year,” Minister Fleming explained.

He said that, when the event is over, the NPA will be able to submit the relevant invoices and costs and draw down funding.

“Because this event was only arranged in the last couple of months, a lot of hotels were already booked out, extra land had to be acquired for ploughing, and other landowners had to become involved. So a lot of extra cost has fallen [on the NPA]. They normally have years ahead to plan these events,” the minister added.