HMFD Chairman’s address for 2016

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-10-21-05-amThe Hon. Michael McCormack, Minister for Small Business and Member for Riverina, the Hon Sussan Ley, Minister for Health, Aged Care and Sport, our loyal exhibitors, the many volunteers, ladies and gentleman, girls and boys.

How true was Dorothy McKellar when she penned “A land of droughts and flooding rains’’.

What a season it has been, a dry start followed by consistent rain. Whilst some areas are a tad wet, by and large the grain industry is looking at a record harvest.

On the livestock side, cattle prices are at record levels and the lamb and mutton prices are buoyant.

Of interest, first cross ewes at Temora last week sold up to $292 a head while recent bull and ram sales reflect the confidence in the future of the livestock industries.

On the downside, the dairy industry is in crisis and we at Henty appreciate the support dairy farmers and their service industries have contributed to the field days over the decades.

Historically, the field days have drawn dairy farmers from southern NSW, northern and north-east Victoria and south-eastern NSW.

Hay and grain produced in this region is consumed Australia wide by the dairy industry.

We are privileged to have Australian Dairy Farmers deputy chairwoman and Wagga dairy farmer Simone Jolliffe to officially open our field days.

2016 has realised a long held dream for the field days co-operative with the opening of the magnificent pavilion to house Country Lifestyle.

The pavilion will act as a venue for year-round events on the site.

My thanks to all who worked on this project, including Graeme Hicks, whose dedication and drive took this project from a dream to reality.

We also welcome the assistance of Baker Seed Co, of Rutherglen, this year. Their staff has sown the demonstration agronomy plots to 22 different wheat varieties, and I encourage all visitors to inspect the site and talk to the experts on hand.

This is also a landmark year for the co-operative as it celebrates the 40th field day at this permanent Cookardinia Road site.

We pay tribute to the hundreds of volunteers who erected the storage and luncheon pavilions, pegged and filled the exhibition blocks, installed culverts, spread road gravel and cleaned up the car park back in 1976.

Forty years ago, the field days were being promoted as the agricultural supermarket to 14,000 rural properties.

Today, it is a first class exhibition venue hosting the nation’s biggest single agricultural and outdoor event, and drawing 70,000 national and international visitors.

To our wonderful staff headed by CEO Belinda Anderson thank you for another great year.

Thanks to my fellow board members and all our committee for a great job, especially our youngest members who have done themselves proud.

The HMFD Co-operative has always been supportive of our younger generation and it is of paramount importance we attract young people to all areas of agriculture to ensure the industry’s future.

This year, the Henty Machinery Field Days Co-operative welcomes our first female member, Sheree Hamson, of Culcairn.

I wish our exhibitors a wonderful and enjoyable field days and those attending a great three days.

-Ross Edwards

HMFD Chairman