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    TALKING CROPS: A contingent of farmers catch up at last year’s Mallee Machinery Field Days at Speed. Picture: PHIL DOWN

AgLife: Social side of Mallee Machinery Field Days ‘invaluable’

Field days have long been a hub for farmers to network, research farming techniques and purchase new machinery and equipment. 

Another characteristic often overlooked for these large-scale agricultural exhibitions is the chance to catch up with mates. 

Organisers of Mallee Machinery Field Days at Speed say it is ‘hard to quantify’ how much farmers will miss the social aspect of the event, which is cancelled due to COVID-19. 

Field days treasurer and farmer Phil Down would normally be hastily helping Speed Lions Club prepare the site in time to welcome more than 8000 visitors and 300 exhibitors for the annual July event. 

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But this year will be a little quieter in the Mallee town. 

“The field days will be missed in a big way, probably as much in a professional front as social front. We’ve lost all of our social gatherings as well, it’s like a double whammy,” Mr Down said. 

“We can get a good handle on the economics of running our event. But that social interaction, we’ve always known it’s important, but it’s hard to measure how much that actually is.”

Mr Down said the social aspect of the event was particularly important in Speed, where farms were only getting bigger and population smaller. 

“The number of people in the Mallee region has dropped a lot,” he said. 

“To keep that social and professional connection is as important as ever.” 

Mr Down said when the field days started more than 40 years ago, it served as a place where farmers could peruse through machinery exhibitions and learn about all the latest farming technology in one place. 

He said while this was still a key aspect of the event, the chance for a mid-season catch up was equally important to farmers and the surrounding communities.  

“When it first started, they were a place to research. Now that’s changed, and most farmers can do that research online,” he said. 

“But it’s also about getting people together. Not everyone is into football or fishing or other social groups, some people are just full-on farmers. This is a great place for them to get together with like-minded people.” 

Mr Down said he hoped the field days committee could continue to run the event for years to come. 

– Dylan De Jong


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The entire July 29, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire July 29, 2020 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!