There will be no ploughing matches or competitions behind closed gates in September, the National Ploughing Association (NPA) has announced.

At an NPA meeting this week, the association made the difficult decision to cancel all national ploughing finals for 2020, with the exception of senior qualifier classes for 2021. These classes include qualification for the world ploughing contest, scheduled to be hosted in Ireland next September.

The qualifying classes have been postponed until 6, 7 and 8 October, conditional on HSE and Government recommendations at that time.

Public health and safety

NPA managing director Anna May McHugh said: “The executive reached the decision to cancel the trade exhibition back in May, in the hope that by September, the national ploughing classes could go ahead behind closed gates. However, as public health and safety is the NPA’s foremost priority and with the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, the association felt that the safest option for everyone involved was to cancel the competitions.”

With visitor attendance last year of 297,000 and up to 1,700 exhibitors, the NPA said the full event was not an option in the midst of a global pandemic.

When lives are potentially at risk, then we all have to take stock and just limit our activities to an absolute minimum


Exhibitors, visitors and patrons have all expressed their disappointment with the news, and the NPA, together with a number of associates, have planned a programme of online activities during what should have been ploughing week.

This will start on the 14 September with the Enterprise Ireland and NPA innovation awards, exhibitor promotions and activities on 15, 16 and 17 September and the Aldi, NPA and ICA National Brown Bread Baking Competition finals on 17 September.

Economic impact

With an annual economic impact reported to be in the region of €45m, the loss of this event is massively significant to the Irish economy. However, the NPA is looking forward to September 2021, where there will be four days of ploughing marking the 90th year of the NPA and Ireland will be hosting the world ploughing contest, in tandem with the national.

McHugh said that “when lives are potentially at risk, then we all have to take stock and just limit our activities to an absolute minimum. We will see brighter days, please God, in 2021 and I look forward to getting back to the ploughing as we know it.”

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