“In the past we’ve had women coming along to support the men but that’s just so outdated.
“They can do the work just like men so now they can compete just like men,” Picken said.
The changes to the competition recognise the roles both men and women play in the agriculture industry and support for the new format has been huge.
Last year’s winner Matthew McAtamney said the changes will bring a new element to the competition and will make great entertainment.
“There are heaps of really talented people working in the industry and I think this year’s finalists will be putting it all on the line to show New Zealand what they’ve got,” McAtamney said.
The format of the competition will remain the same and there won’t be any gender-specific competition or titles, however, the name Fieldays Rural Bachelor won’t cut it any more.
“This competition is about celebrating the talented men and women working in the agricultural industry and giving them the opportunity to take a break and meet some new people.
“It’s a search to find the ultimate rural catch so this year’s finalists will be competing for the title of Fieldays Rural Catch of the Year,” Picken said.
Not only are the finalists a catch for any potential love interest but their rural skills and knowledge of agricultural business make them a catch for any employer, business partner and the wider industry.
Partnered by Farmlands Co-operative, the competition is exclusively for singles but Picken said there won’t be any rose ceremonies.
“Yes, it would be nice to see our finalists find love but we won’t be match-making. Over the years we’ve seen romances and bromances blossom and honestly that’s all we really want.
“Rural life can mean long hours in remote locations so it’s all about finding support and building networks,” Picken said.