Dr Danny Donaghy is professor of dairy systems at Massey University and a specialist in pasture agronomy and physiology.
Recently the Southern Field Days, scheduled to take place in early February, was cancelled - joining a long list of local and regional events. Chairman Warren Ross told Rural News the organising committee had to make the agonising decision to cancel the event for the first time in 40 years.
"While our hearts said go, our brains said no, as we felt that the timing of the event, with a large contingent of visitors from throughout NZ, would be too great a risk for our local community," he says. "Given that it would be difficult to comply with Government regulations that could quickly change under the proposed traffic light system and lead to cancellation at the last minute."
Ross also noted that there was a lack of clarity over the likes of vaccine statuses, vaccination certificates, the form they would take or how to implement any new regulatory requirements at the point of entry to the event.
"This led us to make a decision early, keeping finances in check, rather than paying out for the logistics of the event, with no guarantee that it would be able to take place," he adds. "At the same time, it also protects our loyal exhibitors from unnecessary costs and allows us to give them a complete refund."
Ross says they were also conscious of local businesses like motels and restaurants, which would have been fully booked out and now have a little more time to come up with new marketing initiatives.
Elsewhere on the regional field days circuit, Northland Field Days secretary Megan Walters says currently her committee is committed to delivering a "fully vaccinated" event in early March. Like others in the event industry, they are also looking for greater clarity on vaccination status and vaccination certificates.
"At this stage, we are hoping to deliver a first-class trio of days, and fingers crossed that the Government Covid management strategy all falls into place, but we fully realise that things might change at the drop of a hat," Walters told Rural News.
The Central Districts Field Days is due to be held in March. Director Henry McLernon raised similar issues.
"We are absolutely gutted to hear of Southern Field Days' decision to cancel the 2022 edition of such a great event," he told Rural News. "Currently, we are working through several strategies to ensure we can deliver a top-notch event.
"We are encouraged by the strong demand by exhibitors for such an event; they realise that the opportunity of face-to-face contact with their customers is an essential part of rural life."