New tractor sales fall to lowest level in 5 years

Ciaran Moran and Derek Casey

New tractor sales in Ireland fell to its lowest level since 2011 last year, according to latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Last year, some 1,937 new tractors were purchased falling from 1,986 in 2015 and 2186 in 2014.

It's been a testing few years for the machinery trade and in particular tractor sales. As the British pound continues its post-Brexit slide, increasing numbers of Irish buyers are travelling north in search of tractor deals.

This can been seen in the statistics with imports of used tractors increasing from 1,787 in 2015 to 1,905 last year.

It all puts pressure on Irish machinery dealerships who look to make a living from the trade, but what have tractor sales actually been like so far this year and what can dealers likely expect in 2017?

Someone with 40 odd years of experience in the trade is always worth listening to, and that is exactly what Cathal Sweetman of D & S Machinery Ltd brings to the table.

Established in 1985, D & S Machinery originally started importing the Ursus range of tractors into Ireland from Poland.

Thirty years on and they have a country wide network of tractor dealers distributing the McCormick and Landini brands.

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Speaking to the Farming Independent recently Sweetman said he has found it very difficult going for a few years now as prices to farmers have been forced downwards.

"What has really made it difficult is that the pressure has hit every sector of farming - milk, cattle, grain, potatoes and vegetables.

"It feels like there are too many people competing for too few sales, which results in overpriced trade ins and new tractors being sold with little or no margin.

"The other side of the coin is that tractors have increased in price due to engine emissions regulations and advances in electronics. This makes it harder for the average farmer to purchase a tractor."

While he acknowledged that no one can blame anyone for shopping around, Mr Sweetman urged farmers to think of the local dealer the next time they decide to buy a new tractor.

"The way sterling is going plenty are taking their business across the border or to Britain, resulting in Irish dealers being left with stock in their yards.

"I would remind farmers that when they support a local dealer they are guaranteed after sales support if something goes wrong.

"They are also supporting jobs, because the dealer will be employing mechanics who all needed training and who earn a living from the sector.

The equipment, software and stock of spare parts - it comes at a cost."

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