Farm­ers urged to sup­port re­gional field days

Australian Farmers & Dealers Journal - - FIELD DAYS EXPO GUIDE -

FARM­ERS are be­ing urged to sup­port re­gional agri­cul­tural field days, as dif­fi­cult sea­sons across many re­gions im­pact­ing on pa­tron­age on many of Aus­tralia's best known ma­chin­ery and farm­ing ex­pos. Ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Trac­tor and Ma­chin­ery As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia, Richard Lewis, says that tough sea­sons im­pact ev­ery­one in­volved in agribusi­ness, not just farm­ers, and that a vivid re­minder of that fact has been lower at­ten­dances at field days around the coun­try in the past six months. “Specif­i­cally at the re­cent Wim­mera Ma­chin­ery Field Days held at Lon­gerenong (in Vic­to­ria), I at­tended on Wed­nes­day which “was bet­ter than yes­ter­day” for most of the ma­chin­ery ex­hibitors I spoke to,” Mr Lewis said. “The crowds were no­tice­ably down on pre­vi­ous years, and the dust blow­ing in from the west in the af­ter­noon, giv­ing an in­di­ca­tion as to why. The gen­eral in­ter­est pavil­ions were bustling with peo­ple look­ing at board­ing school ex­hibits and work­wear dis­plays, but the ma­chin­ery stands out­side had what only could be de­scribed as a slow trickle of peo­ple flow­ing through them.” Mr Lewis said that last year had been a tough pe­riod sea­son­ally for Hor­sham and sur­round­ing Wim­mera dis­tricts and that there had been lit­tle rain around so far in 2015. “To their credit, the field days com­mit­tee have an ex­cel­lent fa­cil­ity at Lon­gerenong with clean and mod­ern ameni­ties, plenty of vol­un­teers on hand mar­shalling gates, traf­fic and courier ser­vices and frankly there is lit­tle they can do about the sea­son gone and the at­ten­dance over the three days,” he said. “Farm­ers fac­ing an­other tough sea­son don't need to go to a field day to look at what they can't af­ford.” Mr Lewis said a chal­lenge for field days or­gan­is­ers was find­ing ways to en­sure that farm­ers and other pa­trons con­tin­ued to at­tend their events. He said many new prod­ucts on dis­play are gen­er­ally launched over­seas be­fore their Aus­tralian launch and in­for­ma­tion is abun­dant on the web for seek­ing out de­tails on ev­ery prod­uct shown at the field days.

“The lo­cal (Wim­mera) deal­ers such as O'Con­nors, Em­metts, Wil­liam Adams and Trac­tion Ag are all in at­ten­dance with larger sites dis­play­ing mil­lions of dol­lars of equip­ment, as are the lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers and im­porters look­ing to dis­play their ma­chin­ery,” Mr Lewis said. “Of course the deal­ers will con­tinue to sup­port their lo­cal area, but I'm not so sure about the other sup­pli­ers. I spoke to one in­ter­na­tional sup­plier that only weeks ago held a dealer and cus­tomer con­fer­ence on the out­skirts of Mel­bourne, show­cas­ing their en­tire prod­uct range with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the fac­to­ries in at­ten­dance and demon­stra­tions for cus­tomers. “This came at quite an ex­pense, but the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion is in the fact that these are cap­tive au­di­ences and they are able to get their mes­sage across a lot eas­ier than at­ten­dance at a field days – not to men­tion the cost of ex­hibit­ing at 10 field days across the coun­try each year.” Mr Lewis ar­gued that if farm­ers don't at­tend their lo­cal field days, then the ex­hibitors will even­tu­ally be­gin to spend their dol­lars on dig­i­tal plat­forms and cap­tive events to en­sure they get to their cus­tomers more ef­fec­tively. “Where field days where once 100 per cent of the mar­ket­ing spend of a ma­chin­ery busi­ness, this num­ber is di­min­ish­ing and would not ac­count for 50pc these days,” he said. “There needs to be a re­think on field days – fewer of them, less of­ten and more tar­geted to­wards the ma­chin­ery ex­hibitors to get some bang for their buck. Field days have their place in the ma­chin­ery mar­ket­ing process, but I'm not sure for how long if the crowds (and specif­i­cally farm­ers) don't show up.”

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