TASMANIA’S largest agricultural equipment supplier will not attend Agfest next year.
Rural Youth has postponed Agfest 2022 from May 4 to 7 until August 24 to-27, because of concerns about the economic viability of the event in May with Covid-mandated cap of 5000.
However, Tasmac general manager Andrew Layton said the new timing of the event made it far less financially viable for exhibitors and farmers.
THE casualty list of “no shows” at Tasmania’s major agricultural field days, Agfest, is likely to grow after the decision was made to punt the event from this financial year into the next.
In the latest development arising from the event’s date change from May to August, farm machinery dealership TASMAC announced it will not take part in the postponed Agfest.
Other dealerships are also considering pulling out. The event at Quercus Park near Carrick is organised and run by Rural Youth volunteers and for more than 30 years has been held in May.
The volunteers made a submission to increase capacity of Agfest to 15,000 patrons plus exhibitors and event staff on site each day, but that was rejected by the State Government.
In a slap to the agricultural sector’s request, Premier Peter Gutwein recently lifted the crowd capacity at Blundstone Arena to 14,000 people to attend a game of cricket.
Agfest is an agricultural tradition and has been part of the rural landscape since the early 1980s being held in May for more than 30 years.
“A lot of the benefits of Agfest are around the end of financial year,” Mr Layton said.
“Farmers want to spend money around then, they’re not going to get that opportunity in August.
Mr Layton also pointed to the financial considerations of businesses attending the event, who have the same cost burdens but are seeing a far lower return with limited attendance capacities, “Businesses budget for field days,” he said.
“We’re effectively paying about $5000 a day for a marquee.” “We had such a disappointing 2021 Agfest we ended up sending staff home.
“Afterwards we took all the gear back and launched our Agfest sale, which was far more successful.”
The huge concern for producers in Agfest running in August 2022 would certainly be that it comes at the beginning of a new financial year.
Many primary producers look to Agfest to make end-of-financial- year purchases knowing what finances they have available.
Making major purchases at the beginning of the financial year, without knowing what sort of season lies ahead, will simply not appeal to Tasmanian farmers.
In addition to this, if Agfest was to return to its usual May running date in 2023, it would mean two Agfests in one financial year.
“We’re looking at additional opportunities, doing our own thing in the Agfest timeframe, to try and be more supportive of our customers.”
Branch manager at Longford-based machinery dealership, TTMI, Tas Mundy, called for Agfest’s focus to be put back on farmers and their needs.
“We pre-sell a lot of our equipment going into the spring, especially going into hay and baling seasons, we may well have sold out of everything come August,” Mr Mundy said.
“Rural Youth needs to take a step back, look at their name, it’s Ag-fest, it’s for the farmers, and they’re the ones that are going to suffer from this.”
Agfest generates significant economic activity for businesses right around Tasmania.
Agfest pumps in about $27 million to the local economy annually.