While the economy has copped a battering this year as a result of COVID-19, tractor and machinery sales have surged, and are on-track for a record year.
In previous record years, national tractor sales have exceeded 12,000, but the latest figures from the Tractor and Machinery Association of Australia have suggested that sales this year are expected to pass the 13,000 mark for the first time since the 1980s. SA tractor sales are 60pc up year-to-date, after a poor 2019.
Vater Machinery dealer principal Roger Vater said 2020 sales across the business's three branches - Saddleworth, Nuriootpa and Kadina - had been "extraordinary", with the federal government's instant asset write-off program for machinery up to $150,000 working as a "game-changer".
"With record-low interest rates, farmers are only paying back capital costs, and getting the instant write-off - there has never before been an opportunity like this, ever" he said.
Mr Vater said the business had sourced enough stock to meet demand, but overall limited stock availability across the country had led to farmers accelerating timelines for purchases of new and used equipment.
"Most of the plants overseas closed for some time, stock is not available in the volumes that we would normally expect them to be, and so everyone has made decisions (about purchases) a lot earlier," he said.
If farmers are having a good year, generally we have a good year, they're our bread and butter.
Mr Vater said all product ranges had been met with increased demand, with sales of JCB telehandlers tracking particularly well - doubling in the past 12 months.
Ronco Motors sales manager Wayne Britten said the business's stores at Pinnaroo, Loxton and Karoonda had been "as busy as ever", with many customers upgrading harvesting equipment.
"With farms getting bigger and bigger, farmers have extra land to cover, and looking at what is likely to be a wet summer, they'll likely have less time to get crops off, so people are upgrading so they can get harvest done as quickly as possible," he said.
He said better seasonal conditions had been the driving factor for sales success.
"If farmers are having a good year, generally we have a good year, they're our bread and butter."
G&J East sales manager Matthew Keast, Strathalbyn, also reported excellent sales this year, citing the improved season in SA and interstate, the asset write-off program, and the strengthening agricultural sector in the face of COVID-19 as reasons for the success.
"We import a fair bit of machinery, and sell a fair bit interstate. We've still sold a fair bit interstate even though we can't travel there and haven't been able to show at field days," he said.
"We decided to land all our shipping containers into SA, even for interstate orders, and in hindsight that's the best thing we did, because if we sent them to Melbourne or Sydney, they'd likely still be sitting there."
Mr Keast estimated tractor sales to have nearly doubled, while sales of Bale Barons were up by 30-40pc. Locally, Clemens viticulture equipment had been in hot demand.
"The drive there has been vineyards converting to organic practices, and going back to mechanical control of weeds," he said.
AVERAGE DEMAND ON YP BUCKS TREND
TRACTOR and machinery sales on the Yorke Peninsula this year are going against the grain of the rest of the state, with demand at average levels, rather than off the charts.
Larwoods Ag Services has franchises at Kadina and Maitland, and dealer principal Scott Mercer said good demand in previous years meant not as many farmers were buying in 2020.
"There has to be an evener out at some stage, the priority can't always be machinery, and the focus here in last 12 months hasn't quite been on machinery," he said.
"A lot of farmers here have been very progressive in the past few years. A lot of the latest technology and machinery is already sitting in sheds, so when we get years when there has been a bit of uncertainty, people are able to, and have, sat back a bit."
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Despite average demand, Mr Mercer said prospective buyers this year have been very genuine, following enquiries through with purchases, while the parts and service components of the business had remained busy all year.
With forward-selling of combine harvesters and fronts for next season about to begin, Mr Mercer said he felt positive about the coming year.
"I've got a sense that we're on the final lap of the relay and are about to kick in and get going. The next 12 months are looking to be good," he said.
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