Optimism for Dowerin field days despite tough season

DESPITE recent projections that the State’s farmers face a $2.5 billion loss this year, due to adverse seasonal conditions, it’s business as usual at the Dowerin GWN Field Days, due to run on August 28 to 30.

It’s been a difficult few months for Dowerin GWN Field Days chief executive officer Wendy Newman and her committee. Pulling together the 37th annual three-day event, knowing that many farmers in the Wheatbelt face their fourth successive poor season, hasn’t been easy.

Earlier this year, three established machinery dealerships dropped off the field day exhibitors’ list. The biggest of these was Agro Machinery. The news about the collapse of stock market-listed Agro sent shock waves through agricultural regions and set the merchants of doom loose.

Regional dealers Walkers of Merredin and Kewdale-based company Nichols Concaves also either closed its doors, or changed hands.

According to Wendy Newman, it’s always a shock to hear that old business friends have closed down. But, while some sadly drop out, others take their place. The number of exhibitors is only slightly down on last year, and more than 40 new exhibitors will participate at Dowerin.

Among those planning to lift their profile are Jolly & Sons of Dalwallinu and Koorda. Jolly & Sons recently expanded into Wongan Hills with the acquisition of John Deere dealership, Agro Machinery. The Jolly boys will now fly the green and gold flag as the region’s premier John Deere dealers.

“We’ve been exhibiting for years,” Dalwallinu dealer principal Hayden Jolly said. “Our message at Dowerin this year is, we’ve taken over Agros, you already know us, we’re in for the long haul, and it’s business as usual.”

John Henchy of John Deere said the fact that another well known family business can step into the void left by the passing of Agros is expected to send a positive message to farmers and other suppliers throughout the State.

Last year at Dowerin a cross section of 107 exhibitors reported sales of $9 million, generated as a result of their attendance.

Commenting on this success and the future of the Dowerin GWN Field Days as a three-day event, she said, there were no plans to reduce the number of days.

“Farmers need enough time to see everything and to make their comparisons. And, bigger exhibitors want three days to help offset the expense of getting their equipment here.”

“We understand that some of the smaller exhibitors find it hard to be away from their businesses for the better part of a week, but until our market research shows otherwise, we’ll continue to offer a three-day event,” Mrs Newman said.

“It just blows me away to think of the number of really small businesses that plan to come to Dowerin, this year,” she said. “I think they are very brave to be stepping out when the forecast’s not so good. It just goes to show the resilience of country people.”

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