Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Farming under the microscope

With a buoyancy reverberating around the industry after a fruitful summer, Bruce Lett looks at the state of the machinery sector as we move into a decade of change

Bruce Lett

This year's Ploughing Championships promise to be a much more upbeat affair for the farm machinery industry after a long overdue lift to farming and farm incomes.

The recession has seen farmers get better value for money out there, with increased competitiveness and a drop in steel prices certainly helping with the price of new machines.

On the flip side of that, interest rates are soaring and continuing to rise among mainstream finance companies, with APR rates currently running as high as 9pc on machinery purchases.

Sales of new agricultural tractors are running at around 1,200 units to date, but with some agricultural tractor manufacturers increasing their prices coming into the last quarter and interest rates being so high, it is very unlikely that we will reach last year's tractor sales figure which hit just over 1,600.

There are no official figures for machinery sales, but with the good summer it appears to have been a good year, especially for grass machinery, with many farmers making hay and more reverting back to making their own silage.

The demand for secondhand imported tractors remains strong, with a combined total for traditional brands -- Ford/New Holland and Massey Ferguson -- exceeding 1,000 units so far this year (this includes vintage models).

New procedures for importing and registering tractors were announced at the beginning of this month by the Revenue and this will certainly slow down importing secondhand tractors until all the details are ironed out.

As part of the new procedure, it looks as if tractors will have to be brought to a NCT test centre where the vehicle (and owner) can be authenticated.

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For this year's Ploughing, there will be plenty of new kit to look at, from homegrown Samco Engineering, to Landini, McCormick, CaseIH and Lely, who are expanding their range of grass equipment even further, and many more besides. We will preview some of these here in this week's six-page machinery section.

Irish Independent