THE COUNTRY'S largest agricultural field days have been cancelled, as the state's coronavirus outbreak and snap lockdowns put events on shaky ground.
AgQuip will not go ahead this year after ACM Rural Events organisers made the tough decision to cancel in consultation with public health officials.
The health and safety of rural communities is the highest priority and ACM Rural Events group manager Kate Nugent encouraged the public to get vaccinated.
"It is with a great sense of loss, disruption and disappointment to cancel for the second year, particularly when the Australian agricultural industry is experiencing a boom year and is a beacon for our Australian economy," she said.
"There is no complacency under COVID, there is financial pressure, there is emotional pressure, there is a feeling of fracture.
"With hundreds of millions of dollars lost to industry and rural and regional communities across the nation, again - it's a burden of responsibility and then there is the time to react - to be resilient, to reimagine, to rebuild and realise the new reality."
The event was set to take place in August, but was rescheduled to November this year.
Organisers cancelled as early as they could to give exhibitors and the public certainty and minimise the impacts where possible.
Gunnedah Shire Council mayor Jamie Chaffey said there's mixed emotions around the decision.
"Our community relies on the boost that we have during AgQuip for our small retailers, restaurants, hoteliers, we really look forward to it," he said.
"But on the other hand we completely understand, and there is relief that we won't have that heightened risk of an extra 100,000 people in the shire for the week for AgQuip.
"We are in a much better position with our recent vaccination drives but the community is still vulnerable."
Plans are now in the works to hold the 50th anniversary event in 2022 from August 16 to 18 in Gunnedah.
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said the impacts of losing AgQuip aren't just economic.
"This is not only an opportunity for the best and brightest to get together to look at what's coming up and innovations, but it's social and an opportunity for people to come together and that mental health focus will be sorely missed," he said.
But, out of the uncertainty came innovation, as ACM Rural Events announces the inaugural AgSmart Australia event in March 2022.
It's the first national, commercial agtech and innovation exhibition to be held in Tamworth, Ms Nugent said.
"As we work together to contain the current outbreak and get our communities vaccinated, we can all look forward to the return of major events like AgQuip and new events like AgSmart that bring us together in celebration of the Australian agricultural industry and community," she said.
For updates on the event, visit acmruralevents.com.au/agquip/home.
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