Sun shines on buoyant Dowerin

Jenne BrammerThe West Australian

There was a buoyant mood in the air at the Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days last week, when 23,000 visitors descended on the annual event.

The sun was shining and farmers were feeling optimistic on the back of season-saving rains at the end of July and in early August, strong livestock prices, and a falling Australian dollar which was supporting prices for their exported goods.

The event is now in its 51st year.

Dowerin Field Days chairman Ashley Jones said the 23,000 visitors were well up on the long-term average for gate numbers.

There was also a record number of more than 700 exhibitors, many of whom reported high sales and a number of positive enquiries.

Among the highlights were a war exhibit, featuring a Stuart M3 Tank and very rare World War II searchlight restored by Nungarin resident Bill Hewitt.

Mr Jones said most people who attended the event were there to talk business and had their chequebooks out.

"And exhibitors were ready, with a huge amount of equipment on display," he said.

The quality of the exhibits was among the best seen at Dowerin, with the site absolutely packed with new agricultural machinery and related equipment.

The Most Outstanding Exhibitor award went to Aglime of Australia/Precision SoilTech for a Sandcastle display. During the official opening, Mr Jones talked of many challenges ahead, including climatic, technological and political.

"But the industry has shown amazing resilience in the past and will do in the future," he said.

"We have seen new investors come into agriculture and as the mining boom subsides, the agricultural industry will once again become one the most dynamic and important industries in the WA economy.

For us to be competitive into the future we have to invest, and people are our biggest asset."

Mr Jones said the 2015 Dowerin Field Days theme was Careers in Agriculture, and there were plenty of students in attendance at the event to listen to presentations in a dedicated seminar marquee.

WAFarmers used the field days to launch a fighting fund, aiming to raise $40,000 which would be used to conduct an independent review into the costs and benefits to rural WA if the Fremantle Port were to be privatised.

Rothschild and Deloitte are expected to provide a detailed report in December on the planned sale, but WAFarmers has doubts this would take into consideration the costs or benefits to Rural WA and wants an independent assessment undertaken.

WAFarmers president Dale Park said the farm lobby group was asking the rural community to support the project by donating what they could to ensure a fair outcome for farmers.

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