MARCH was another strong month for sales of agricultural equipment across Australia as the expectation of a repeat of last year’s levels materialised, according to Tractor and Machinery Association executive director, Gary Northover.
Mr Northover said conditions across the agricultural sector were “very healthy”, especially in the southern states which had enjoyed a “green” summer, full dams and autumn rains arriving at an ideal time for the future growing season.
He said tractor sales for the month of March went just past the 1000-unit mark in what was another very strong month for the southern states.
“It was this time last year that the crisis in the dairy industry was unfolding with dramatic consequences for tractor sales. With confidence returning, we have seen a resultant bounce in sales, particularly in the under 40 horsepower (30kW) category,” he said.
Sales of tractors in this category are 13 per cent up on the same time last year which has contributed to overall sales in Victoria being up 15pc on the same time last year, South Australian sales up 31pc and Tasmania up 16pc on last year.
Mr Northover said the tropical weather experienced in Queensland and NSW had had an impact on sales while Western Australia reported another healthy month, following the recent state election, to be back in line with the same time last year.
“The month was also notable for a solid volume of large tractor sales, particularly in the over 200 horsepower (150kW) category which are now 7pc up on the same time last year,” he said.
“We reported last month that overall sales were tracking comfortably above $1 billion on an annual basis and this level is being boosted each month with a combination of strong support for larger tractors and the ever popular “leisure” market.”
Sales of combine harvesters have started to pick up and the forward order book is once again at peak levels.
He said dealers were reporting extremely busy levels of activity both in the sales and support areas and, while last year’s harvest season was generally considered a little late, the autumn break had been very short lived.
Whilst baler sales were quiet, they too were a product line that had experienced very strong demand with sales, on a 12-month basis, 18pc up on the previous 12 months.
The sale of out front mowers remains very strong and is indicative of the activity being enjoyed by all short-line and implement suppliers across the board.
Mr Northover said there were still challenges being felt in the industry.
“Whilst supply is seen as good, pressure remains on input costs as manufacturers across the board deal with rising prices for everything from steel to tyres. Despite this, optimism in the market remains high,” he said.