TRACTOR SALES TREND CONTINUES- by Charles McCarron

FOR THE fourth consecutive year, tractor registrations in the UK have increased – leaving the total at its highest since 1997.

Total units registered in 2004 ended at 14,955, an increase of 2.4% on the previous year.

Registrations in the first half of the year were sustained on the back of high arable returns from crop prices for the 2003 harvest – enough to drive registrations 10% above the same period for the previous year.

Weaker sales for the second half of the year can be attributed to difficult harvest conditions and lower grain prices in 2004, according to the Agricultural Engineers Association.

Currently order levels remain reasonable but given poor arable returns it seems unlikely that demand will reach last year”s levels. Expectations for 2005 are more modest and the trade anticipates a downturn.

To date there is little evidence of farmers being reluctant to invest due to uncertainty over the introduction of the single farm payment, maintains the AEA.

Naturally some caution exists, but until more evidence becomes available about the changes in farm practice encouraged by decoupling, the effect on machinery sales will remain an unknown.

fwmachinery@rbi.co.uk