Fergus Woolley, 2, of Alstonville enjoys a test drive of this Yuchai bobcat at Primex on Saturday.
Fergus Woolley, 2, of Alstonville enjoys a test drive of this Yuchai bobcat at Primex on Saturday. Doug Eaton

Casino's agricultural show shines

BLUE skies prevailed at Primex this year, keeping thousands of visitors happy while strong sales inquiries provided a bonus for exhibitors, organisers said yesterday.

While overall visitor numbers were down on previous years, trade inquiries remained strong during Casino's annual agricultural exhibition, despite wet weather playing havoc with the show's setting up earlier in the week.

An estimated 40,000 visitors thronged through the gates at Primex over three days – down from an expected 60,000 who would have made it had the rain not set in earlier in the week, said Primex Agricultural Field Day director Bruce Wright.

“We had promoted it strongly through both Northern Rivers and NSW Tourism, however, the rain earlier in the week would have put many people off travelling,” Mr Wright said.

Indeed, there were as many as 30 exhibitors who couldn't make it to the show because the Pacific Highway was closed from the rain in the Port Macquarie and Kempsey areas, but those sites were soon snapped up by exhibitors on a waiting list, Mr Wright said.

“At the end of the day, we were totally booked out and we've had very positive feedback from exhibitors, with strong inquiries for heavy machinery and sales for tractor dealers,” he said.

While the weather challenged organisers this year, it is the economic climate that is still the major challenge for the agricultural sector, and this too was reflected at Primex, Mr Wright said.

“There is general uncertainty over what will transpire over the next six to 12 months with tax and climate change issues, so there's a cloud in the sky there and people are taking a cautionary approach,” he said.

However, the strong sales for machinery and heifers at Primex over the weekend was further proof that the Northern Rivers is well placed to weather such uncertainties, Mr Wright said.

“Tractors received the strongest inquiries, followed by agricultural machinery and then small equipment,” he said.

Primex heifer sales were strong on Saturday, Mr Wright said, with 180 entries in the Primex Commercial Heifer Sale this year – the most successful to date.

Heifer prices included $1220 for brangus cross, $1100 for brahman cross heifer PTIC and some weaners going for $680.

Noel Thompson, of Coraki, took out the Champion Penner Heifer category, while the Supreme Champion in the Bull and Heifer Classic went to Jack Jivewright, of Lismore.

Sustainability, diversity and an expanding horticultural industry continued as a strong focus of Primex this year, as the North Coast grows into one of Australia's largest production areas for soybeans, barley, maize and canola.

With our food production ranging from cattle to macadamias to blueberries, coffee, olives and soybeans, the Northern Rivers was in a strong position to withstand challenges in weather and economic climate, Mr Wright said.

“Compared to some regions, we are in a very positive position because we have such diverse primary industry,” he said.

“The bottom line is people have to eat.

“Our diversity provides economic stability on the North Coast.”

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