FROM THE EDITOR
Seasons might have been all over the shop in 2014 but that news – good or bad – has all but paled into insignificance as everyone, from politicians and economists to farmers and agricultural suppliers, watch the Australian dollar’s freefall. At the time of writing it had collapsed a staggering 20 per cent against the US dollar in just a matter of months after its sustained bull run saw it well and truly outdistance parity to become one of the world’s darling currencies. But while it was an unexpected and incredible boon for the tourism industry it almost crippled Australia’s farming exports and buyers ran for cover – and other, cheaper markets. The full extent of its impact can be seen in regional towns such as Echuca, in northern Victoria, where food processor Simplot lost major contracts to the US because of the exchange rate. It was a body blow from which the company is still fighting to recover and an unsettling harbinger of the sudden impact a fluctuating currency can have on an industry which has little defence against its vagaries. By the time the dust settled in 2014 it turned out to have not been a bad year for machinery sales. But currency aside, in one of the most transparent and open interviews in years, Landpower director Merv George told Australian Farm Dealer Journal about where he sees the Australasian machinery industry heading in the next few years. An assessment he has based on his extensive history in the northern hemisphere agricultural industry and he says the massive changes in the industry there are on their way Down Under. I doubt there has been a more direct response to the question about the future of any segment of rural industry and Mr George’s detailed answers are a must read. His interview was so far reaching and so long we have had to break it into two parts, with the final instalment in our next issue. Make sure you don’t miss either part.