By Connor Lynch
Farm equipment dealers across the province are having a down year, with the low dollar and commodity prices making farmers gun-shy.
Kucera Farm Supply owner Dan Kucera, who has dealerships in Alvinston, Chatham, and Tecumseh in Western Ontario said that it hasn’t been a robust year but sales aren’t drastically down and the year on the whole has been good.
“Guys aren’t buying as much but they are still buying,” Kucera said.
He added that with Highbury Canco taking over the Heinz plant in Leamington, tomato growers in his area are doing well, and the weather has played ball for vegetable growers. Sugar beet growers in his neck of the woods are benefiting from American demand and a low Canadian dollar, he added. “I’m sure we’ll have some record yields in corn and soybeans in my area.”
The only downside is low commodity prices, which kept Kucera from repeating its 2014 banner year, he said.
Canada-wide tractor sales are down 15.6 per cent so far this year, reports the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. New tractor sales dropped from 15,590 from January to the end of August in 2015 to 13,153 over the same period this year. That’s the lowest number of tractor sales since 2011.
In Huron County, McGavin Farm Equipment co-owner Brian McGavin said that lower beef and commodity prices and spotty yields have been keeping farmers away from new equipment.
“Invoices are 30 per cent more than they were three or four years ago. Sticker shock to a lot of them,” McGavin said. “As far as used, it’s backing up too. It’ll sell, but the older stuff will be harder to move.”
McGavin said that the next few years are looking to be tough but that farm equipment sales is a cyclical market.
The drought is just making the exchange rate problem worse, said owner of Como Equipment Dealers in Winchester, Bryan Como. “Farmers are a little bit gun-shy. Corn and bean prices are down, yields won’t be like last year, and the new stuff just keeps going up in price.”
Dairy farmers, who are normally the ones buying new equipment, have been dropping off like flies in Como’s area. “In the last couple of months, 10 smaller dairy farmers cashed out. So no matter what the price is or how good the equipment is, those guys aren’t coming in.”
Sales have held steady for the last four or five years because he deals mostly in used equipment, Como said. “There’s always buyers for good used stuff.”
For Peter Chase, who runs Chase Enterprises in Seeley’s Bay, it’s been the worst summer he’s had in years. “Interest has been very, very low. I’m not even getting tire kickers.”
Chase also deals in used equipment. “I don’t see it turning around this year unless the crops are better than we think. I guess I won’t be ordering a lot of new equipment in next year. My yard’s full.”
But Chase said he’s gotten used to the ups and downs of the industry. “You’ll get a few good years and you’ll get a few bad years and you have to be ready for it.”