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Coronavirus: Norfolk loses chance to host major Commonwealth conference

PUBLISHED: 19:09 18 March 2020 | UPDATED: 19:09 18 March 2020

The Commonwealth Agriculture Conference, due to be held in Norfolk in July, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured from left are Michael Lambert of the RASC, Dr Arjoon Suddhoo, Commonwealth deputy secretary general, RASC chairman Lord Vestey and Greg Smith, chief executive of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association. Picture: Liv Parker

The Commonwealth Agriculture Conference, due to be held in Norfolk in July, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured from left are Michael Lambert of the RASC, Dr Arjoon Suddhoo, Commonwealth deputy secretary general, RASC chairman Lord Vestey and Greg Smith, chief executive of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association. Picture: Liv Parker

Liv Parker

An international event which was seen as a “huge honour” for Norfolk’s agricultural community has been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s Commonwealth Agriculture Conference, the flagship biennial event of the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth (RASC), was scheduled to take place at the University of East Anglia in early July.

Organisers have announced the event will now not go ahead as it was “untenable” to bring delegates from across the world to a conference which was also due to include a day at the Royal Norfolk Show as well as visits to major farming enterprises including the Holkham and Sandringham estates.

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“It is with deep regret that we have taken this decision, but in the unique circumstances the RASC trustees felt that they had no other choice,” said RASC chairman Lord Vestey. “Bringing people in from across the world to an event of this nature is now untenable and it makes sense to cease activity at this stage.

“I am extremely grateful to the team at the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA) who have been working hard on our conference plans for a considerable time, share their sadness at this decision and thank them for their efforts.”

Sir Nicholas Bacon, a former RNAA chairman who is also deputy president of the RASC, said: “We [the RNAA] are deeply disappointed, but fully supportive of the RASC’s decision. Hosting this conference on behalf of the UK was to be a real feather in Norfolk’s cap. However, we are in unprecedented conditions and the safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers has to be a top priority for all concerned.”

• Information regarding refunds for delegates is expected to be announced shortly. For more information, see the RASC website.

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