Machinery dealers across Queensland say drought and lack of reliable rainfall is having a greater effect on their businesses than lockdown restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the bitterly cold westerlies rage across much of Queensland this week, it would have been one of the agricultural industry's busiest weeks, with farmers meant to be walking the grounds of FarmFest, near Toowoomba.
Jason Black of Black Truck and Ag, who has branches in Toowoomba, Gatton, Dalby, Roma, Goondiwindi and Moree, said sales in his agricultural division picked up after good rain fell in January and February across Queensland, NSW, and Victoria.
"We really started to see our ag business pick up dramatically after the rain and FarmFest would have been big business for us," Mr Black said.
"Without FarmFest, we have found the government's COVID-19 incentives have played a big part, as has the government's decision on depreciation incentives.
"These previously allowed small and mid-sized businesses to spend up to $30,000 on equipment and were beefed up to a $150,000 spending limit, while plant investments worth more than $150,000 qualifying for a one-off, 50 per cent depreciation claim against a regional business' or farmer's taxable income until July 2021."
Mr Black said in cropping areas, particularly in NSW and Victoria, spray rigs have been the big ticket items, along with farmers looking to replace headers.
"For us that is a big turnaround as due to the drought that market has been non-essential for the past couple of years, but the most popular items have been tractors commonly found on any farm," he said.
"We are particularly pleased FarmFest will go ahead in October; if we get rain and a bumper winter crop it could be very good to us."
Vanderfield's general manger for growth and innovation Guy Hoffensetz said the drought had also impacted their business.
"The government incentives have definitely helped drive more sales for Vanderfield between now and the end of June," he said.
Vanderfield's merger with RDO Equipment had enabled further growth for the business.
"We are now releasing more John Deere construction equipment and we would have promoted this at FarmFest, so this is still going ahead," Mr Hoffensetz said.
"We are nervous about FarmFest's timing in October as we have 15 other events during that period plus it is harvest time.
"We find the FarmFest June timeslot is perfect for us, and it is the best event for us, as we pay for our costs and farmers have time to talk with us."
Farmfest shifts to mid October
Organisers of CRT FarmFest have announced the event will be held over three days, from October 13 to 15, and again it will be sponsored by Farmcraft and Dalby Rural Supplies.
For the past 45 years CRT FarmFest has undoubtedly become a one-stop-shop for all farmers, no matter what part of the industry they are in.
Farmcraft managing director Alistair Ross said the field day has catered to the needs of farmers for many years, while also offering a fantastic family fun day out in one of Australia's greatest agricultural heartlands.
"CRT FarmFest is an event that draws a huge number of people, with suppliers from far and wide helping to attract over 60,000 visitors," he said.
Dalby Rural Supplies managing director John Cullen said the event was a rare opportunity for farmers, not only due to the products available, but it gave both farmers and suppliers the opportunity to network, share ideas and spark up some great conversations.