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Organisers fear an end to field days


Tocal and other field says need support from the government and the community in order to survive, organisers say.

The COVID-19 pandemic is threatening the existence of Australia’s agricultural and machinery field days, such as the Hunter’s Tocal Field Days.

Organisers believe the current crisis will hurt farmers, the local community and the economy.

Tocal Field Days Manager, Wendy Franklin, said it was scheduled to be held in early May but was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The next event is set to be held from 30 April to 2 May, 2021.

Ms Franklin is also the secretary of the Association of Agricultural Field Days of Australasia (AAFDA), which is calling on governments and communities to support local field days’ committees.

The AAFDA is seeking funding from the Federal Government to help cover losses associated with the cancellation of events due to Covid 19.

Ms Franklin said Australia’s field days generate millions of dollars, which were ultimately put back into the community through grants and charity donations.

In 2019, Tocal Field Days attracted more than 21,000 visitors and exhibitors, putting $40,000 back into local community groups through grants.

“Field days play a vital role in educating the community about the importance of agriculture, and its contribution to Australian’s kitchens and to the economy,” Ms Franklin said.

“They also connect farmers to suppliers and each other to facilitate innovation and best practice farming.

“Field days support jobs, farmers and regional communities.

“In addition to the economic benefits, charities and community groups rely on field days for fundraising, exposure and support to rural communities.”

Ms Franklin said Tocal Field Days was in a better position than many other field days because it had some modest reserves.

She said many other field days were run totally by volunteer committees.

“Those volunteer committees and the community will benefit from other state and local government support to give committee members and staff new skills in business management, digital marketing and using social media,” she said.

“Tocal Field Days has been operating for 36 years through floods, drought, fires and, with support, we will not let coronavirus destroy this important community event.”

“Field days just need a little helping hand to continue to bring fun, family friendly, economically beneficial events post the COVID-19 crisis.”

Many other field days have been operating for several decades. The Australian National Field Days was the first, starting in 1952.

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