RAIN dampened the first two days of Fieldays but not the spirits and spending of the 45,000+ visitors by Thursday, with the Friday attendance record of 40,000 hinted to be shaken up and great weather forecast.
The Honourable John Key, Prime Minister for New Zealand opened Fieldays with the Fieldays President Warwick Roberts.
The Honourable Nathan Guy, Minister for Primary Industry was by his side and I have to say I’m impressed with how ‘in touch’ government leaders are here: they’ve wandered and mingled with farmers, exhibitors through to agribusiness leaders with ease and little fuss. The media are far less aggressive here.
International agribusiness has also saturated the first two days here at Fieldays with the Business International Centre being heavily used. Just picture a large busy cafe in Melbourne, but with tables and chairs and lounges full of people from all over the world talking business, trade and sharing ideas. The two baristas work flat out keeping coffee flowing through the seven private meeting rooms and mezzanine floor.
I've been lucky enough to meet and chat with the Minister for Agriculture from Ecuador, Minister for Finance from Canada, Governor of Santa Fe in Argentina and extensively with the NZ Minister. I’ve also run into numerous delegations from Japan, China, Korea, Chile and Argentina who are here to trade. It’s exciting to hear about the value they place on their visits and negotiations.
The focus for agriculture in New Zealand is collaboration, learning and innovation, not to mention to support for young people just starting or wanting to enter the sector. Building on key markets in Asia and elsewhere is of course important, but how can you deliver the goods with a brand to match when you don’t have a strong, healthy and future-focused industry at home?
As you can imagine, Nathan Guy along with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise has been back to back discussing opportunity building networks in future markets as well as building on their Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
At the KPMG Agribusiness Leaders breakfast I heard Mike Petersen, Special Agricultural Trade Envoy, who travels the world building and maintaining agricultural trade relationships say: “ FTAs are not just about reducing tariffs but opening minds, because that’s what they do. They signal to business that they can plan and invest with confidence to build long term and enduring relationships”.
Not a bad point, he also bought up New Zealand’s number one agricultural focus, biosecurity. “Biosecurity of food is the number one risk area for new Zealand, our ability to trade depends on our reputation and food safety.”
I’m off on Friday to talk with hundreds of the farmers, families and exhibitors on site, it’ll be a big learning curve to hear the stories of losses, successes and the focus of the people, businesses and families that make this world-leading agricultural industry happen.
One of my favourite areas here at Fieldays is the Innovation centre, where this year 79 innovators are here sharing and selling the fruits of their “light bulb moment”. The stand-out this year is a young Patrick Roskam, a 13-year-old who developed the Gudgeon Pro 5 in 1.
He thought of it after seeing his old man on the farm get frustrated with hanging gates, and took a wooden proto-type to a school science fair, last year he developed a metal prototype for Fieldays and through exposure here and the interest and investors that Fieldays attract is now selling them commercially here this year.
Check out the below clip that was on 7pm Sharp across NZ last week: Patrick's invention the talk of Fieldays.