The Society has played a leading role in the development of agriculture and New Zealand's economy since its inception in 1968. The Society and Fieldays owe its origins to Waikato farmer and Nuffield Australia Farming scholar John Kneebone. Travelling to Britain in 1966, he wrote to the Waikato Times farming editor Pat Cuming suggesting an annual outing for farmers.
One year after Mr Kneebone wrote to the Waikato Times, representatives from Federated Farmers, the University of Waikato, the Agricultural Research Centre, the A and P Show Association, the newspaper and the city’s Mayor discussed bringing town and country together in a farm festival. After the first Fieldays in 1969 attracted 15,000 people, the numbers grew to a record 133,588 in 2017.