Specialty crop equipment sales are strong

  • Nov 28, 2019
  • 2 min read

Farmers growing specialty crops or looking for the latest technology may be investing in new farm equipment, but when it comes to buying iron, most producers are pulling in their horns.

October farm equipment sales in Canada, as measured by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, weakened as bad weather, poor harvests and trade disruptions were top of mind.

Four-wheel-drive tractor sales were cut in half, with just 50 units going out dealers’ doors, compared to 102 during the same month last year.

Self-propelled combine sales decreased 9.2 per cent, while two-wheel-drive tractor sales fell nearly 19 per cent for 100-plus horsepower tractors and 11.6 per cent for under-40 horsepower tractors.

The only category that was up was 40 to 100 horsepower tractors, with a modest increase of just over six per cent.

The promise of specialty crops

Curt Blades, AEM’s senior vice-president for agriculture and forestry, says one equipment sector that looks particularly promising is specialty crops, driven by the growing interest in alternative diets that include more fruit and vegetables.

Equipment sales for specialty crops, driven by interest in alternative diets, shows promise.

In Europe, specialty crop equipment sales are booming, and Canada is starting to follow, especially in orchard and vineyard technology.

As well, Blades says some new units are being purchased by producers who want the latest technology.

“We see this everywhere in the world,” Blades says. “Producers get excited about new technology.”

The overall trend, however, is worrisome. Blades says sales figures are dominated by broad-acre row crops, which are being hit by the likes of climate change and trade.

Sales reflect net farm income

Charlie O’Brien, secretary general of Agrievolution, the global alliance of equipment manufacturers, says farm income and equipment sales go hand in hand.

“Net farm income is being affected by extended periods of stressed economic conditions in Canada in the ag sector hit by bad weather, increasing input costs and depressed and uncertain commodity prices,” O’Brien says.

However, he says, at some point, farmers need to replace older equipment that no longer meets the operation’s needs.

Newer or used equipment needs to be available on the farm to do the job so producers are in a position to take advantage of the next positive cycle,” O’Brien says.

He says he’s optimistic conditions will change.

Bottom line

The overall trend of decreased farm equipment sales in Canada is brought on, industry experts say, by challenging weather and trade conditions. Equipment sales for specialty crops is strong, industry states, as are sales of units to farmers who want the latest technology. Older equipment may need to be replaced in order to meet the farm’s production needs, they say.

Article by: Owen Roberts