FEARS over the latest foot and mouth outbreak have forced the cancellation of this year’s Cheshire Ploughing Match.
Organisers expected 5,000 visitors to flock to the 80-year-old event on Wednesday at Park Farm on the Eaton Hall Estate in Pulford.
It is yet another setback for Cheshire’s farming community after flooding and another foot and mouth outbreak earlier this summer.
Three confirmed cases of foot and mouth in Surrey last week have hit one of the highlights of the county’s agricultural calendar again - six years after it had to be cancelled because of a previous outbreak.
Mark Roach, managing director of Grosvenor Farms Ltd, runs the site and made the decision to cancel on Monday.
He said: ‘We have a responsibility to the wider farming community so going ahead would have been totally irresponsible.
‘We have nearly 2,500 dairy cows and 100 bulls. With 3-5,000 people due to travel down the drive near to the livestock and foot and mouth not under control, the risk of hosting the match was too great.
‘We are desperately disappointed.’
For £6, visitors would have seen exhibits hosted by local agricultural firms, ploughing and hedgecutting demonstrations and competitions as well as vintage and modern tractors.
Norman Lawson, secretary of the Cheshire Ploughing and Hedgecutting Society, said: ‘The society is very disappointed.
‘We totally understand the reasons Grosvenor Farms did not wish to go ahead with the match. Their dairy herds are among the top in the country and it would have been madness to risk years of work.
‘This year’s match had been more popular than ever with more stand space booked than for many years.
‘Fortunately the society is in a strong enough position financially to absorb this blow.’