06 July 1998
Farm machinery sales – recovery on the way?

By Stephen Howe

THE UK farm machinery industry is having a difficult time – but the picture might not be as gloomy as official figures suggest.

Figures published by the Agricultural Engineers Association are depressing, but they refer only to sales to dealers. Sales to farmers are are actually picking up, claims Tim Dowdeswell, managing director of Dowdeswell Engineering.

“UK dealers are not willing to take in extra stock in the present climate and most have also been running their stocks down,” said Mr Dowdeswell on the eve of the Royal Show. “That does not mean that sales to farmers have fallen by the same amount.”

Although machinery sales are lower than in the past, Dowdeswell has spoken to a number of farmers over the past two or three weeks and “sales have begun to pick up”.

The recession in UK agriculture, which last year saw farm incomes drop by 37-47%, has hit the machinery sector hard over the past six months. Tractor registrations were down, as were sales of farm implements.

The main reason farmers are not buying more machinery is the lack of confidence resulting from low farm-product prices and the strength of Sterling, Mr Dowdeswell said.

“The strong Pound represents a triple whammy. Its hitting the profitability of our UK farmer customers. Its helping our competitors who are importing product. And its making it more difficult for us to export,” he explained.