And there’ll be more than ever to grab their attention, with the centre of the showground now given over to farm machinery and other agricultural trade stands, a major presence from Mole Valley Farmers and all manner of farming organisations and professional advisers offering guidance on applying for the vital, but hugely complex, basic payment scheme.
As always, the beating heart of the show will be the livestock: not just the magnificent cattle, perfectly coiffured sheep and immaculately presented pigs, but goats, alpacas and all manner of furry or feathered creatures. Cattle entries are slightly up on last year, sheep and goats on a par, but the pig entry is close to a record for modern times, with some 200 entered.
With the outcome of the General Election still very much in mind, the show will provide the first opportunity for Devon farmers to hear from the new Ministerial team at Defra about their policy priorities - and vice versa!
Whatever may be said about the wider farming agenda, the two most pressing issues for farming families in Devon are the seemingly endless problems over delivery of the new Basic Payment scheme, and roll-out of the badger cull to bring bovine TB under control. The newly promoted Minister of State at Defra, George Eustice, is coming to the show on the first day, May 21, to speak at the CLA breakfast, meet the Devon leaders of the NFU and tour the showground.
On the Friday, members of the Devon Federation of Young Farmers Clubs will be debating the future of farming, and two NFU office-holders, Deputy President Minette Batters and Vice-President Guy Smith are due to visit, on Thursday and Friday respectively.
If this year’s Devon County Show has an even stronger agricultural flavour than usual, then that may be down to its current President, well-known Devon dairy and free-range poultry farmer, David Parish, of Uffculme, near Cullompton.
“I know I’m biased, but I reckon that you won’t find a finer display of the very best in British livestock breeding anywhere in the country than at the Devon County,” says David. “It sets the tone for what is still fundamentally a farming show and is undoubtedly one of the most important events in the West Country farming calendar.
“The Devon farming community have always been loyal supporters of their main shop window, and never more so than this year, in rallying behind the show after last year’s disaster. May is always a busy month on the farm, but I know that thousands of Devon farmers, and their families, will somehow find the time to come to the show to buy, sell, compete, learn or even just to meet their friends and have a great day out.”
If the Devon County Show is a great meeting place for the farming community, then it is also a shop window for the county’s farming and food industry. With that in mind, the show organisers have this year joined forces with Devon County Council’s “Farm Wise Devon” initiative, to give school-children visiting the show hands-on experience of farming activities. In a special area of the show ground, they’ll be able to get up close and personal with milking cows, shearing sheep, making cider, driving tractors and a hundred and one other day to day farming tasks.
“It may seem commonplace to those of us in the farming business”, says the Show Secretary OIlie Allen, “but it’s something very special if you’re a ten year old boy or girl who’s never been on a farm in your life.
“It’s a great way of using the show to make the connection between country and town, and in the 21st century, that’s one of our most important roles.”
Member since: 10th July 2012
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