Opinion: Victoria remains tough market to crack

By: Gary Northover

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Close shot of a  harvester Close shot of a  harvester

Australian farm machinery sales are being led by the larger end at present, with sales in dollar terms now 10 per cent up on an annual basis, writes the TMA's Gary Northover.

With big-ticket tractors above 200hp experiencing boom conditions and grain harvesters getting set for a big season, up 11 per cent for the month and 12 per cent on a year-to-date basis, the large end is certainly bringing some joy to the bigger players.

Sales in South Australia enjoyed a bump of 5 per cent and, while down in September, Western Australian sales are right in line with last year.

Overall unit sales are tracking a volatile path at present with September sales recording an across-the-board decline of 5.5 per cent in unit numbers following a very strong August.

As we’ve stated in the past, it can be unwise to read too much into one month’s figures as the year-to-date numbers are in line with this time last year. That said, there are a number of short-term factors at play which are affecting the monthly numbers.

It is also very clear that many machine deliveries, particularly in the hay and livestock sectors, have been delayed due to the severe weather conditions being experienced in the south/south-east of the country

Victorian sales were once again down another 20 per cent and are now 16 per cent behind last year.

A combination of the well-documented stress in the dairy sector is seen as the major contributor, although there are indications that many dairy farmers are taking the opportunity to refinance their equipment while interest rates are still low, so this segment is perhaps not as dire as one might expect.

The under-40hp range, including the ‘hobby farmer’ segment, remains quiet due primarily to the prolonged wet season which has kept grass levels low.

Sentiment in this space is also being tested by such things as share-market  volatility, with many of these end users learning to live with lower-than-expected returns on their retirement funds. However, when the warm weather finally does arrive, we expect to see a boom in this segment.




New South Wales was once again the standout, up 21 per cent on last month and now up 17 per cent on a year-to-date basis due largely to the very strong cropping sector in the northern part of the state.

Queensland is sharing some of his benefit, down 7 per cent for the month but in line for the full year.

Following a huge leap in sales in August, combine harvesters delivered another cracking result, up another 12 per cent. Baler sales, however, dropped back and are now around 10 per cent down on last year due largely to wet weather and ongoing difficulties in the dairy sector.

Finally, the sales of out-front mowers continue to soar, up another 9 per cent on last month and 17 per cent up on a rolling 12 months.

Australian tractor suppliers remain quite bullish with regards to the forward outlook. There have been some challenges environmentally, however the grain and crop harvesting activity is expected to continue strongly into the near future.

Finally, we would like to say a big thanks to all involved in the recent field days particularly at Henty and Elmore.

The TMA has continued its involvement in both of these events culminating in the awarding of the best Australian Agricultural Machine Award at Henty to Landaco for their Maxispread TS1200 variable spreader, and TISCA at Elmore for the Batwing Wood Slasher. Congratulations to all involved.

GARY NORTHOVER is executive director of the Tractor & Machinery Association of Australia (TMA). He can be contacted on (03) 9867 4289 or via email 

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