Fieldays 2016: Govt looks to entice young people into farming

Fieldays 2016: Govt looks to entice young people into farming

The annual Fieldays farming extravaganza kicks off on Wednesday in Hamilton, bringing together farmers and 1008 exhibitors.

More than 120,000 people are expected through the farm gates at Mystery Creek between Wednesday and Saturday, but with falling dairy prices over the past two seasons will it be the money-go-round of previous years?

Around $1 million was withdrawn from ATMs on site last year. The trade show contributed $396 million to New Zealand's economy, with Waikato's slice of the pie totalling $142 million.

Traditionally it's the time of year farmers splash out on new tractors, technology and vehicles, but DairyNZ CEO Tim Mackle says he expects this year to be different. After a challenging couple of seasons with the reduced milk price, he believes they'll be conservative with their purchasing.

"Expenditure on repairs and maintenance has declined $18,000 to $20,000 from 2013-14 to 2015-16 [two seasons], or about a one-third reduction over the two years.

"Farmers right now are focused on how they can improve their farm's efficiency, maximising their pasture and keeping costs under control. While we are in challenging times, the majority of dairy farmers are resolute and are remaining as positive as they can be at this point."

It's during these challenging times the Government is trying to entice young people into farming. A report says 50,000 more workers are needed by 2025; half of them will need to have NCEA level 4 or higher.

The Government has called in big guns like former All Black captain Richie McCaw and Rob and Sonia Waddell to be Primary Industry Champions. They'll be part of a campaign to be announced on Tuesday night, which is supposed to convince young people farming is about more than simply milking cows.

More is also expected from the Government on how it plans to support those in the dairy industry facing immense financial pressure.

Samantha Hayes will be reporting for Newshub Live at 6pm from Fieldays on Wednesday.

Fieldays will be officially opened on Wednesday at midday by Prime Minister John Key and Finance Minister Bill English.

Traffic and parking has always been a challenge at the venue, so this year an app has been developed by Vodafone so visitors can navigate around the site on their phones and "drop a pin" where they've parked their vehicle. This could prove handy, as around 11 vehicles are parked at the venue every minute.

There will of course be alpacas for petting, tractor-pulling and the New Zealand National Fencing Competition, which has nothing to do with swords.

Chefs Chelsea Winter and Allyson Gofton will be on site to take care of taste buds, and the ever-popular Rural Bachelor of the Year is back, with eight finalists competing for the Golden Gumboot.

Innovators are in the spotlight, with 60 new products featured in the Fieldays Innovation Centre. Ones to look out for are to look out for are an environmentally friendly electric farm bike and 3D-printed honeycombs, which make life that little bit easier -- and more productive -- for bees.