Bright year ahead for tractor sales

By: Gary Nothover

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Following on from what has been an outstanding two-year run, sales of agricultural tractors experienced another bump in January as conditions remain stable across the key markets, writes the TMA's Gary Northover.

 

John Deere 1570 Front Rotary Mower
© Deere & Company


Overall sales were up a further 4 per cent on the same time last year and sit 7 per cent ahead on a ‘rolling 12 months’ basis.

The smaller under-40hp ‘leisure’ category was down around 10 per cent, attributed to the holiday season, with the 40-100hp range up around 4 per cent on January last year.

Activity in the large tractor range was again very strong with the 100-200hp sector up 17 per cent and the above-200hp category up 15 per cent.

Across the states, activity was quite varied with the southern states down – Victoria and South Australia were in line with last year while Tasmania was off 10 per cent.

New South Wales (up 12.5 per cent) and Queensland (up 5.4 per cent) were both busy and Western Australia was down 1 per cent

Not surprisingly, sales of harvesters were quiet with a small number of baler sales also reported.

The sale of out-front mowers continues to roar, up another 8 per cent on the same time last year due to the large amount of grass around.

Looking ahead, expectations are once again high for another strong year in the agricultural equipment market, although not without its challenges

Manufacturers and Importers are beginning to see a return to healthy conditions in the US and Europe. This will ultimately impact supply to the Australian market, which has been one of the few bright spots globally.

With an infrastructure construction boom taking place in NSW and Victoria, combined with improving conditions in the mining sector, labour shortages are beginning to once again be felt in the ag sector.

The tightening of the 457 Visa regime has added further stress to the labour supply side and we see this as an ongoing issue for dealers across the country.

We are seeing a continuation of a more sophisticated approach to the use of agricultural equipment by farmers and contractors as they continue to adopt a greater fleet management focus.

Because farmers are so much more focussed on productivity and are constantly seeking to avoid downtime, the importance of locking in known hourly operating costs is critical. This means we’re seeing more users trading machines out at around the 3500-4000-hour mark prior to any major repairs or refurbishment requirements in much the same way as fleet operators do in other industries.

These low-houred machines are then easily traded, thereby ensuring a healthy cycle exists. As in December, stocks of used equipment remain low and dealers remain ready to deal.

Finally, we are beginning to see an increased focus on agricultural safety. Australian farms are considered one of the most dangerous workplaces  and we continue to highlight the great work being done in by Importers, manufacturers and dealers in delivering products and services of the highest standard.

The TMA has for many years been at the forefront, working with the various regulators to ensure that safety standards are implemented and upheld and we continue to deliver this work on behalf of our industry.


Gary Northover is executive director of the Tractor & Machinery Association of Australia (TMA). He can be contacted on (03) 9867 4289 or gary@tma.asn.au


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