April 15, 2021

Rep. Mike Levin and Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support Del Mar Fairgrounds and Agricultural Fairs

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced bipartisan legislation with Reps. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Billy Long (R-MO), and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) to support agricultural fairs like the San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and offset the devastating financial losses they have experienced due to COVID-19. The Agricultural Fairs Rescue Act would provide $500 million in federal grants for agricultural fairs through state departments of agriculture.

State and county fairs are a primary source of promotion of U.S. agribusiness products and services. Prior to the pandemic, agricultural fairs generated an average of $4.67 billion per year, supporting thousands of jobs. From March through May of 2020 alone, International Association of Fairs and Expositions members reported a loss of $22 million per month. Last year, nearly 100 employees at the Del Mar Fairgrounds were laid off due to financial losses related to the pandemic.  

“Almost every family has cherished memories of attending a fair in their community - my own family looks forward to the San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds each year - which serves as a critical economic opportunity for local businesses and agricultural producers,” said Rep. Levin. “However, many fairs have experienced devastating financial losses as a result of this pandemic. We need to step up and help protect these fairs for future generations, and the Agricultural Fairs Rescue Act will provide that much-needed lifeline. I am proud to join Representatives Panetta, Long, and Newhouse introducing this bipartisan legislation on behalf of agricultural fairs across the country.”

“Due to the pandemic, our annual fairs not only lost out on operating in many of our communities on the Central Coast, we also missed out on the sense of community provided by those very same fairs,” said Congressman Panetta. “My bipartisan Agricultural Fairs Act would provide federal funding to assist these fairs in making up their lost revenue over this past year and help put those fairs back into our communities this coming year. Having grown up going to many of our local fairs, my legislation is meant to secure their continued success and ensure that our fairs continue to play a part in our culture.”

“It is rare indeed if a person doesn’t have fond childhood memories of their county and state fairs. Fairs play a vital role in U.S. agribusiness by supporting thousands of jobs and giving farmers a way to promote their products. Our fairs have suffered very substantial, if not devastating, losses due to COVID-19. I am proud to work with my colleagues, Congressman Jimmy Panetta, Congressman Dan Newhouse, and Congressman Mike Levin to introduce legislation that offers critical and strategic relief to a vulnerable industry in dire need of our assistance,” said Rep. Long.

“Not only do fairs give us an opportunity to come together and better understand where our food comes from, but they also serve as an economic opportunity for many of our rural communities by supporting thousands of jobs and giving farmers a way to promote their products. Fairs in Central Washington and around the country generate billions of dollars that simply cannot be replaced or recouped without the ability to operate. I am proud to work with my colleagues Representatives Jimmy Panetta, Billy Long, and Mike Levin to introduce legislation that provides much-needed relief grants to fairs that are unable to generate any revenue due to COVID-19. The federal government can and must take such measures to prevent unmitigated and devastating losses to these vital sectors of local agricultural economies, which are prohibited from operating by state government mandates,” said Rep. Newhouse.