One of the largest agricultural field days in the Southern Hemisphere, AgQuip, will not run in August, as it has done since 1973, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, organisers have flagged a November date for the three-day event, which usually attracts about 100,000 people to Gunnedah in north-west New South Wales.
“In the [agriculture] industry, it’s an economic outlook that’s better than it’s ever been for the past few years,” said Kate Nugent, Australian Community Media rural events group manager.
“Farmers who haven’t produced a crop for many seasons are anticipating excellent harvests, we’ve got pastures and stock thriving as well.
AgQuip has long played a crucial role in bringing together rural and remote primary producers, connecting them through drought, and now hopefully supporting each other through the recovery.
“As the drought is easing its grip on vast areas of NSW, Queensland and Victoria, it does offer not only our Australian agricultural companies, but most importantly it’s our agricultural farmers, the professionals of the land, our regional communities, to get out and take advantage of what AgQuip is,” Ms Nugent said.
“Never before have we had such a heavy reliance on food productivity, and so AgQuip is a part of that food chain, we’re part of the supply chain for the Australian agricultural industry.”
Nod of approval from exhibitors
The drought has stretched far from the farm gate to regional businesses, with many hoping for big sales this year.
Roger Moylan, a regular at AgQuip for nearly three decades, said his farm machinery business had taken a huge hit during the drought.
“We’ve had three years of drought and now this virus situation,” he said.
“We really haven’t had a good run, and it’s great to think that we should get a crop this year; it gives a little bit of hope and it gives farmers that initiative to do something when they’re looking at purchasing and upgrading their equipment.
“For agriculture, for farming, we really do need AgQuip — it’s a very important part for the farmers and the exhibitors so we can show the new technology and we can also bring to them the equipment that’s in the marketplace.
“The only downside we may have is that it will be the commencement of harvest season and it could affect some areas that will start to take the crop off in November.”
Organisers acknowledged the clash but still hoped for strong attendance.
Event means millions for the region
Ms Nugent said the “world-class event” brought tens of millions of dollars to the Gunnedah and wider north-west region, something accommodation and hospitality businesses would be looking forward to on the other side of the pandemic.
She said the prospect of an online event was not one to which organisers gave much thought.
Mr Moylan said it was the right call.
“Sale staff can interact with existing and new customers on the site, on the day; it gives a better appreciation and you can get out there and explain your own products when it’s like that,” he said.
AgQuip will run from November 10 to 12.