The National Ploughing Championships are a chance for farmers to “blow off steam”, according to National Ploughing Association (NPA) assistant director Anna Marie McHugh.
“They realise they’re not the only one dealing with the same issues,” she says.
“It’s a good day out. A lot of farmers will still be on duty. They’re there to get the right information and see where they are for the next year. The Department of Agriculture stand, Teagasc, it’s all about the one to ones.”
The NPA assistant director also said that the Ploughing allows farmers to meet others within the agri-food chain and vice versa, particularly those in the beef and dairy sectors.
Visitors to the Ploughing are “very fond” of its current site in Ratheniska, Co Laois, McHugh said.
She is confident the site will work “very, very well” for the tens of thousands who will attend the three-day event from 19 to 21 September.
And while the NPA is actively engaging with farmers and landowners to determine where the Ploughing might go next, she suggested it is likely Ratheniska could be the location again in 2024.
“We haven’t got the push yet from the public to move it,” she said, explaining that the Laois site has worked well since the event returned after the COVID-19 pandemic.
McHugh listed a number of additional attractions at this year’s Ploughing which should be highlights for all in attendance.
“The dairy industry section in particular will be the biggest we’ve ever had. This year, dairy is the one and I don’t know why,” she said. And she expects dairy equipment merchants, processors and stakeholder exhibitors will have plenty of face-to-face engagement with farmers, given the way milk prices have gone this year.
Cars are also returning to the National Ploughing Championships this year, with many big-name car dealers back on site.
Several of these will be displaying and selling electric cars, with a big drive to push them towards rural buyers.
And, a mobile phone-controlled tractor will be the star attraction at this year’s Enterprise Ireland innovation arena, according to the NPA assistant director.
She said this, along with “all the new innovations still coming in”, will impress visitors, as always. There’ll also be an international element to this year’s event with exhibitors on site from New Zealand, USA, Brazil, Italy, Slovakia, Australia, France and Spain.
Aldi will be the sole major retailer to have a presence at the Ploughing with some well-known music acts set to take centre at the supermarket’s stand again this year.
There will be “much the same” presence of livestock exhibitors at this year’s event as there was in 2022, when a number of the bigger breed societies stepped away.
“It’s an intense ask on the societies. We’re not a competition. There’s an intense amount of man power needed from them. They’ll come and go,” she explained.
There will also be a lot of educational exhibits, with a strong attendance expected from schools.
And while a number of agricultural shows have had to be cancelled this year due to the weather, McHugh was adamant that the NPA event is well able for rain.
“We’ve always been able to deal with the rain. Until we had a storm, we would’ve been fine. With a storm, you absolutely have no say,” she said.
The NPA is urging farmers to buy their tickets online before the championships. Online tickets cost €25.
If there are surplus tickets left over, they will be sold on the gate for €30.
However, the NPA has warned that farmers will not be guaranteed a ticket at the gate on the day and to buy them in advance.