and we’re off!
There’s another bright year ahead for tractor sales
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.
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-month’ 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 focused on productivity and 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-hour machines are then easily traded, ensuring a healthy cycle exists. As of December, stocks of used equipment remain low and dealers remain ready to deal.
Finally, we are beginning to see an increased focus on agriculture’s safety record. The TMA has, for many years, been at the forefront, working with the various regulators to ensure safety standards are implemented and upheld, and we continue to deliver this work on behalf of our industry.