#Ploughing16: Farm show giants to join forces

The largest agribusiness exhibitions in the northern and southern hemispheres are about to be twinned.

Traffic is at a standstill on the site on the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Tullamore, Co Offaly

A memorandum of understanding between the National Ploughing Association in Ireland and the New Zealand National Fieldays Society is due to be signed and announced this week.

Delegates from the Fieldays Society are to attend the three-day ploughing championships, which begin today at Screggan, Tullamore, Co Offaly.

The society organises agricultural fieldays, and the four-day national show takes place near Hamilton, New Zealand, in June each year.

Exchange visits, and other co-operative programmes, are likely to emerge from the twinning of Europe’s biggest outdoor rural exhibition and the largest agricultural trade show in the southern hemisphere.

Volunteers are the backbone of the events, which provide a shop window for agribusiness, promote innovation and education, are a social outlet for rural communities, and bring town and country together.

Fieldays is held on a permanent, 114-acre site at Mystery Creek, near Hamilton, known worldwide as the home of New Zealand agriculture.

Founded in 1968, it attracted 130,000 visitors this year, had 1,000 exhibitors, and hosted delegates from 40 countries.

Chief executive, Peter Nation, said they are proud to honour their heritage and continue the legacy created by Fieldays’ founders.

“We’ve seen huge growth in this event, from the idea born in 1968 to today, and, all along, we’ve been dedicated to advancing agriculture, not just within New Zealand, but around the world,” he said.

The National Ploughing Association, which has been held in different counties since it was founded, in 1931, attracted 281,000 people to its three-day event last year in Ratheniska, Co Laois, where there were 1,500 exhibitors.

Weather-permitting, a similar, if not larger, turnout is expected at Screggan, where Fieldays will also be part of a group of five, innovative New Zealand agricultural companies.

They will be joined on the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise pavilion by televison rugby analyst, Brent Pope.

He said Ireland and New Zealand have a strong track record of shared learnings and inspiration in the agricultural sector.

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