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Rep. Fortenberry signs onto bill that could offer $500 million to fairs

Rep. Fortenberry signs onto bill that could offer $500 million to fairs
Lancaster County Fairgrounds

Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry has signed on to a bill that could help fairgrounds survive the pandemic.

The Agricultural Fairs Rescue Act (H.R. 7883) has bipartisan support and has been introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives to help preserve fairs across the country.

The legislation provides $500 million in Agricultural Fair Rescue Grants to agricultural fairs, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). The AMS will provide the grant funding to states or state departments of agriculture based on the loss of attendance those fairs have experienced in 2020.

In Nebraska, the Lancaster Event Center Fairgrounds supports the measure.

“The LEC fairgrounds is not operationally subsidized to remain open beyond the annual county fair,” said Kenra Ronnau, president of the Lancaster County Ag Society.  “This sort of financial support will be crucial to enabling our fairgrounds to survive throughout this COVID pandemic with its core expert staff and critical maintenance done to protect this asset built over the last 20 years after already being closed over 3 months and facing ongoing severe attendance limits.”

According to the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE), the operation of agricultural fairs results in $4.67 billion for the U.S. economy and supports thousands of jobs each year.

Rural Radio Network staff member Bryce Doeschot contributed to the coverage of this story. Doeschot is a member of the Lancaster County Agriculture Society.  For questions about Doeschot’s involvement, contact him here.

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