Tractor sales on a roll in WA

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Afgri marketing manager Jacques Coetzee with some tractors
Camera IconAfgri marketing manager Jacques Coetzee with some tractors Credit: Simon Santi The West Australian

WA’s April tractor sales jumped 19 per cent year-on-year after a solid start to the year, with dealerships reaping the benefits of the State’s recent $6.5 billion harvest.

Overall, WA tractor sales are up about 10 per cent on last year, bucking a national trend which has tractor sales hovering about 10 per cent below last year.

Tractor and Machinery Association president Gary Northover said WA was a “stand-out” for tractor sales, while the national outlook was “fairly conservative”.

“Agricultural tractors have continued to occur at a steady pace across the nation, albeit at levels still around 10 per cent below last year,” he said.

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“It is very much a mixed bag at present, with WA a stand out.

“Sales in WA (are) up 19 per cent for the month and remain around 10 per cent ahead of last year.”

The boost in sales has come after WA farmers delivered their second-biggest crop last harvest, worth a record-breaking $7.5 billion on the back of bumper prices.

AFGRI Equipment marketing and small agriculture manager Jacques Coetzee said the harvest had given farmers a confidence boost.

“Most customers feel confident after a good harvest to update some of their machinery,” he said.

“As technology changes, it allows customers to acquire machines that will help them potentially decrease costs through input or breakdowns and increase yields.

“Most of the State had a good season last year ... which instils confidence in farmers to keep up to date with technology.”

It has been a big year for AFGRI, which officially took the reins as a John Deere Construction and Forestry dealer from Hitachi Construction Machinery on May 1.

Farm Machinery and Industry Association of WA executive officer John Henchy said WA was in the sweet spot for machinery sales this year, with an “air of confidence” among machinery sellers at last year’s three major field days.

“We had a very good harvest after the field days, and that will have a good impact on businesses,” Mr Henchy said.

“All of the dots lined up, with a good harvest and good prices for grain and stock. It is not often that all of these things happen.”

WA was not the only area of Australia to experience growth in tractor sales in April.

Sales were also strong in Tasmania and the Northern Territory, up 10 per cent and 50 per cent, respectively, year-on-year.

Drought-affected New South Wales and Queensland have experienced understandably low sales this year, with NSW down 15 per cent in April and 23 per cent for the year so far.

Queensland was 34 per cent behind in April and 13 per cent behind last year, so far.

Elsewhere, South Australia continued to struggle at 25 per cent behind last year by the end of April. Victoria staged something of a recovery, with sales up 12 per cent in April — driven largely by the 40 horsepower segment — but still 7 per cent behind last year.

WA is pegged to remain the shining star in terms of Australian machinery sales this year, while overall sales decrease on the back of the recent east coast drought.

When asked whether machinery dealers in WA were feeling confident, Mr Coetzee said AFGRI took a long-term view.

“At AFGRI, we understand agriculture is a long-term mindset,” he said. “We build relationships with our customers to make sure we can meet their needs when times are good and be there to help when times are not so good. It is all about the customer and making sure we are their preferred supplier.”

After five years of growth, in 2018 machine sales took a breather, slipping 4.8 per cent below 2017 figures to end with 12,158 tractors sold nationwide.

In other news, the Tractor and Machinery Association will hold its annual conference at Hyatt Place Melbourne on July 16. To find out more, visit tma.asn.au.

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