For first LAMMA since 2020

Service Dealer's agricultural machinery editor, Martin Rickatson, writes . . .

This week’s LAMMA, the first time the NEC-based national farm machinery show has been held since January 2020, appeared to have drawn decent visitor numbers across the key early hours of both days, despite worries that the COVID-enforced date shift from January to May would deter many from coming given the busier time of year for both arable and livestock farms.

There were certainly some quieter periods later on both days, some blank spaces here and there, and some disquiet among some exhibitors around how some unfilled stand space had been allocated in the run-up to the event. And, as anticipated, some big names were missing. But the LAMMA organisers had used initiatives such as a new ‘LAMMA365 dealer zone’ to ensure most makes were presented, while others - such as Massey Ferguson - teamed up with their local dealer, and Case IH, for example, supplied a suite of tractors for UK retailing partner Bednar’s cultivation equipment stand. Marques such as Kubota, though, were fully represented by a UK HQ team.

Credit is due to the new organisers for restarting the show, with LAMMA and its associated magazine titles, including Farmers GuardianArable Farming and Dairy Farmer, having been acquired by new owners Arc, a global events, data, and media company, only last August. It remains to be seen how visitor numbers translate into trade down the line for manufacturers and dealers, with continued concern over high steel, fuel and fertiliser costs and the prospect of reduced farm support on the horizon – although high commodity prices, largely driven by the conflict in Ukraine, are tempering this slightly. As farm consultants Andersons pointed out in an early-morning press briefing, prospects for this harvest - given a little May/June rain - look ok. It is next year in particular when farmers look likely to have to tighten their belts.

There was certainly no hiding the fact some exhibitors were unhappy with the rescheduled date, fearing that livestock producers would be busy making silage and arable farmers would be busy on their sprayers in the midst of disease control programmes. Some had chosen to shrink their originally-planned stand sizes, and it was suggested many had done so on the basis they would be recompensed for the space they didn’t use only via reduced payment for stand space at next year’s event. However, despite the fact no-one can be sure how many attendees at a free-entry show are tyre-kickers and how many are serious prospective buyers, many reported a decent level of enquiries despite the rise in ag input costs and machinery prices. 
The next challenge will be to see whether sufficient support can be garnered for the next event, which barring another other unforeseen issues should fall back into its usual January slot – only eight months from now…

Read Martin's full LAMMA report in the next issue of Service Dealer magazine.

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