By Patrick Meagher
SPENCERVILLE — A local crop farmer flew to St. Louis to pick up a second-hand combine and figures that even with the low Canadian dollar and the cost to transport his purchase to the border, he still saved more than CDN $5,000.
Shawn Carmichael of Spencerville, south of Kemptville, took advantage of a downturn in the two price drivers — commodity prices and the U.S. price of milk — to purchase a 2004 John Deere 9550. It cost him $100 for the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority to close the bridge so that his combine could take up both lanes on the drive over the St. Lawrence River to the Canadian side with two escort vehicles.
“There are deals to be had when the milk price is low,” Carmichael told Farmers Forum. “It’s like up here. The dairy guys drive the equipment market. If the dairy guys are making money, the iron is moving.”
American milk works on a free market system and is selling for $14 per l00 lb. but U.S. producers need at least $15 to break even, he said. Last year milk was selling for $24 per 100 lb. “That’s how quickly the market can change.”
The window of opportunity translates to a 20 to 30 per cent price savings on equipment, he said.
Carmichael headed to Missouri to see a combine he saw online. An American rancher sitting behind him on the plane told him about a better deal in nearby Shiloh. Carmichael looked at both combines and bought the one the rancher recommended.
The dealer told him the equipment market was so depressed to just offer a price and “I’ll likely take it.”
“I lowballed,” said Carmichael, who travelled with his 11-year-old son Colton. “Sold,” said the dealer who also handed them two tickets to that night’s Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. “It was like Christmas,” Carmichael said.
He drove the combine across the international bridge on June 24 and was met by a mystified Canadian customs officer who looked at the large mobile machine and asked: “What is that?”