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April 3, 2006

Smithfield put out to grass

This year's Royal Smithfield Show has been cancelled, following news that a number of major exhibitors had pulled their bookings for the December 2006 event.

This sounded the final death-knell for the London-based, biennial farm machinery and livestock event. The bells had effectively been tolling for the last two years as major industry players in the machinery sector publicly expressed their reservations about the value of the show against a background of rising costs and falling attendances.

"We decided immediately after Smithfield 2004 that we could no longer justify the costs of exhibiting in London," said Tony Cox, marketing manager of Agco, representing Massey Ferguson, Valtra, Fendt and Challenger.

While John Deere calculated that each visitor to that year's show cost the company 8, resulting in a massive 300,000 total spend.

"Smithfield just doesn't represent value for money anymore," commented marketing manager, Chris Meacock.

Dominique Gill, managing director of Haymarket Land Events, the show's organisers, said closing the show had been a tough call but she didn't blame exhibitors for pulling out 'in the present farming climate.'

"It is a sad reflection on the state of the British farming industry. The 18-20 admission cost and the cost of travelling to London was becoming difficult for many farmers to afford," she said.

It's not all bad news, however. Other agricultural events, like the major European exhibitions, Agritechnica in Hanover and SIMA in Paris are likely to benefit, as are the segmented shows such as the Cereals and Grassland events. According to Agco's Tony Cox, the costs here are one-eighth those of exhibiting at Smithfield.

And, already, the organisers of AgriScot, the Edinburgh-based winter agribusiness show, have announced expansion plans for 2006. Other trade and technical events are no doubt hoping for a similar spin-off benefit from Smithfield's demise.
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