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AgQuip field days cancelled, exhibitors, local economy to lose millions

By Patrick Bell, Tuesday July 14, 2020 - 13:26 EST
ABC image
The annual event has grown astronomically since this photograph was taken in 2010. - ABC

One of Australia's biggest agricultural events, the AgQuip field days, has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The three-day event is usually held in Gunnedah, in north-west New South Wales, in August.

Kate Nugent, of ACM Rural Events, said the resurgence of COVID-19 in Victoria and NSW created additional uncertainty over the prospects for the event.

"This is the first time that AgQuip has cancelled in its 48 year history," Ms Nugent said.

"Our concern is for the public health and safety of our exhibitors, our visitors, and our teams."

It is estimated that the event generates hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of sales every year.

Rough trot for sellers

Scone-based machinery dealer Mick O'Brien said the loss of AgQuip in 2020 was a bitter pill to swallow.

"AgQuip is our major field day, so it's generally very, very good for us," he said.

"It's about the only field day that we have where people will buy on the day.

"They have very long arms, AgQuip — it goes all over the country."

Mr O'Brien said he had already ordered machinery from overseas.

"We sort of can't cancel that," he said.

"It's all in a process which is already on its way."

Ms Nugent said she appreciated the impact the cancellation would have and said the decision was not made lightly.

"It is with a heavy heart, and it is with the understanding of what we do mean to regional and rural Australia," she said.

Economic blow to the region

AgQuip typically injects tens of millions of dollars into the local economies of north-west NSW.

Gunnedah Mayor Jamie Chaffey said the loss of the event would be felt acutely by the community.

"Our motels are always booked out well in advance – years in advance – for AgQuip," Cr Chaffey said.

But he said the resilience of the region has been proven throughout the drought, and will be on display once again.

"The last four years have really been quite tough, but we're holding our own," he said.

"There are a lot of people committed to Gunnedah."


© ABC 2020

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