Resilience And Innovation Shine at Fieldays in the Face of Economic Adversity

Fieldays has again provided a platform for industry leaders, sector professionals, and farmers to converge as the primary sector grapples with its own challenges.

The pinnacle agricultural event concluded last week with 106,000 visitors through the gates and visitors navigating a mix of sun, clouds and rain, reflecting the adaptability and spirit of the farming community.

“There is no escaping the headwinds of the current economy. Businesses and individuals are doing it tough. Despite this, 1,069 exhibitors turned up and turned it on for our visitors,” says Peter Nation, New Zealand National Fieldays Society Chief Executive.

Looking forward, it was evident to see exhibitors cementing their positions in their respective markets and staying front and centre in their customers’ minds. 

“These proactive measures and investments underpin the unwavering dedication of our exhibitors,” says Nation. “Many who have been exhibiting for 30, 40 and 50 years”.

“It will take time to understand the true impact of the sales made from Fieldays, but overall, there is a feeling of cautious optimism that budgets have at least been met in most areas”.

Case IH Network Development Manager, Murray Grant, noted they were very pleasantly surprised by buyer activity at Fieldays 2024. “In a general market that is down around 25% – 30%, we came with a low expectation of high-volume sales. However, we were very pleased to have recorded 28% growth on last year’s sales, a testament to quality visitor engagement and the importance of Fieldays to the wider farming community”.

Visitors exchanged meaningful discussions with organisations and exhibitors on the advances made in the primary industries over the past year, future strategic growth and the move to operate more sustainably. Politicians played their part, making several announcements, including the inquiry into rural banking.

New features included the Fieldays VIP Business Plus Lounge which was developed to enhance the experience of business leaders on site, the opening of the Fieldays Rural Advocacy Hub and a Family Activation Zone.

The Fieldays Rural Advocacy Hub is a collaboration between Fieldays and Federated Farmers where visitors stopped by to converse with sector representatives on topics such as emissions, methane targets, banking, freshwater rules and more.  

This year’s Fieldays Innovation Award winners brought fibre to the fore, with winners Fleecegrow, KiwiFibre, and WoolAid all showcasing the innovative uses for wool and Harakeke/flax. Mark-It also caught the judge’s attention, and St Peter’s Cambridge student Penny Ranger was awarded Young Innovator.

The award winners walked away with a share from the $70,000 prize pool and garnered significant attention from the market for their innovations.

International representation was strong, with increased visitation up from last year. A total of 49 businesses from nine countries exhibited, 25 delegations registered from 15 countries, and 17 embassies with delegates attended.

The Fieldays Hubs continued to be a strategy for showcasing the organisation’s strategic pillars of innovations, education, and globalisation. The Fieldays Hauora Taiwhenua Health & Wellbeing Hub, Fieldays Careers & Education Hub, Fieldays Foresty Hub and the Fieldays Sustainability Hub all saw engaged visitors eager to absorb and take home valuable information. 

Other Fieldays staples, including Fencing, Tractor Pull, and Excavators, provided thrilling competitions throughout the four days, with full results on the Fieldays website.  

Looking ahead, the focus now shifts to the 2025 event and maximising efforts to provide an optimum experience and connection between attendees and exhibitors.  

“While the metric of quantity through the gates is important, the true measure lies in attracting the right individuals who represent the entire food and fibre value chain. Something we continue to work towards year on year,” says Taryn Storey, Head of Customer and Strategic Engagement, New Zealand National Fieldays Society.

“We need to provide excitement and learning opportunities for our recreational visitors and families to take time off-farm, celebrate and connect with their advisors and supporters. In this respect, the Rural Advocacy Hub is likely to grow in importance as a destination for our visitors to seek support and advice in one place”, says Storey.

In a climate marked by increasing costs, online Fieldays ticket prices have remained the same for the past five years. “This decision reflects our dedication to ensuring the event remains accessible, while striving to provide value without compromising the quality of our event,” says Storey.

Over 150 volunteers helped make the event a success, along with hardworking staff, supportive partners and premier sponsors, and the 1,069 valued exhibitors. Held annually, Fieldays will be back at Mystery Creek in 12 months, from Wednesday, June 11 to Saturday, June 14, 2025.

You can stay engaged with Fieldays throughout the year by checking out the Fieldays Instagram and Facebook pages.

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