9 Jun 2015

Finishing touches on Fieldays site

4:31 pm on 9 June 2015

The National Agricultural Fieldays venue at Mystery Creek, outside Hamiltion, is a scene of frantic activity today as exhibitors put the finishing touches to their sites so they're ready for tomorrow's opening.

National Agricultural exposition FIELDAYS 2014 Mystery Creek

National Agricultural exposition FIELDAYS 2014 Mystery Creek Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

A record 1001 exhibitors are displaying their goods and services this year on 1500 sites spread over 50 hectares, creating the equivalent of a densely packed small town.

Last year's Fieldays boosted the national economy by more than $421.52 million in terms of the revenue it generated, according to a Waikato University economic impact analysis.

A key point of interest this year will be the impact that the slump in dairy prices will have on sales.

Chief executive Jon Calder said that was hard to assess at this point, but he pointed out that the Fieldays, as the largest event on the agricultural calendar, was about a lot more than just the dairy industry.

"When we look back on previous years when the dairy payment's been down, there was a dip (in sales), but nothing significant.

"I think this year's going to be a real test case because we've probably never seen such an extreme change from the high of last year to where we've ended up this year at the four dollar 40 mark," he said.

"But that said, it's not just big capital items that farmers are coming here to look for.

"There's a lot of products and services on display here that fall into what I'd describe as an affordable price bracket, regardless of the economic outlook and these are products and services that are going to give farmers a competitive edge or improve productivity or efficiency or just take costs out of their businesses, and that's got to be attractive to anybody," he said.

"Dairy is an important part of what Fieldays represents, but it's one component of our agrisector. Sheep and beef farmers are having a particularly strong year and it could be that their spending offsets some of the dairy stuff."

Last year Fieldays attracted just under 120,000 visitors over the four days.

This year's visitors will include more delegations from overseas, with about 300 representatives from more than 30 countries, including China and India, and for the first time, exhibitors from South Korea.

"On the back of the newly-signed free trade agreement between New Zealand and Korea, the Korean Trade Commission has got a pavilion with 10 companies exhibiting this year which is a first for us," Mr Calder said.