TMA decries delays amid September sales spike

By: Gary Northover - President, Tractor & Machinery Association

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Tractor and Farm Machinery sales continues to soar in September, though supply delays are a cause for concern in some areas

TMA decries delays amid September sales spike
Tractor sales are 30 per cent ahead of where they were last year, according to the Tractor and Machinery Association


While much of Australia’s cropping country is looking at a great harvest, machinery supply is proving a difficult hurdle to get over in some areas.

Unfortunately, recent wharf activity (or lack thereof, specifically due to an industrial dispute) in Western Australia is now part of some lengthy delay equations which have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and price hikes in international freight costs.

While some dealerships report adequate supplies of harvesters, only a week or so ago, ships carrying harvesters and other ag machinery were turned away from wharves at Fremantle.

Ag machinery freight business Wallenius Wilhelmsen (WWL) is one carrier which has been forced to divert at least three shipments to other ports recently. WWL says an ongoing dispute between Qube and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) continues to disrupt its shipping services in the port of Fremantle.

WWL added that the dispute has been ongoing for 11 weeks and is now causing significant supply chain disruptions, with vessels being diverted to other ports.

Wallenius Wilhelmsen Oceania senior vice president of logistic services Kim Buoy says the company is looking at contingencies for other vessels to be diverted as well.

"We are exploring all opportunities available to us, with the main focus on minimising customer impacts, and greatly regret this challenging situation for our customers."

The dispute between the MUA and Qube Ports only involves the Port of Fremantle in WA as WWL’s operations at all other Australian ports continue normally.

The TMA has been highlighting similar problems with wharf disruptions for two years now and while diverting ships is a short-term solution, it will no doubt add pressure to eastern states capacity, which has its own COVID-19 challenges.

Meanwhile, machinery sales continue to power on with tractor sales running 30 per cent ahead of last year with the month of September another outstanding one across the nation.

In NSW sales are up 32 per cent for the month and are 50 per cent ahead for the year to date, continuing what has been a positive run for nearly 18 months now; Queensland was again strong up 46 per cent for the month and now up 28 per cent YTD; and Victoria was up 10 per cent and is 16 per cent up YTD.

Sales in Western Australia recorded another strong rise with a 45 per cent lift for the month in preparation for what promises to be a bumper harvest season now 35 per cent ahead for the year. South Australia was up 12 per cent for the month and Tasmania finished 25 per cent ahead. Sales into the Northern Territory enjoyed a 125 per cent rise.

All performance reporting categories have enjoyed strong rises for the year, however the under 40 hp (30kw) range was up just 13 per cent in August due to ongoing supply challenges but remains 17 per cent ahead of last year.  

The 40 to 100hp (30-75kw) range was again up strongly 38 per cent in the month, now 3 per cent up YTD, the 100 to 200hp (75-150kw) category was up 12 per cent to now be 24 per cent ahead YTD.The large 200 hp (150kw)PLUS range had another strong rise, up 92 per cent and now sits 69 per cent ahead of last year.

Sales of Combine Harvesters are presently very strong now up 33 per cent on last year.

Baler sales were down again and remain 4 per cent behind last year’s outstanding season. Finally, sales of Out - Front Mowers are still strong, up 11 per cent YTD.

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