Tractors sales dropped in 2012 – but only a bit

Sales of tractors in the UK in 2012 were down on the previous year – but only by a bit. The final count of registrations of agricultural tractors over 50hp in the UK for 2012 was 13,951 – a drop of 1% on the 2011 figure.

According to the Agricultural Engineers Association (AEA), the UK body that represents farm machinery manufacturers and importers, the average power output of tractors sold in 2012 was 148hp – 2.6% more than the preceding year.

In fact, the total power bought by farmers in 2012 was 2 .1 million hp – 1.6% more than in the previous year.

The early part of 2012 saw high tractor sales, helped by a good farming year in 2011 that saw incomes rise by around 20%. Help also came in the form of tax incentives to invest in the early part of the year.

The result was the first six months of 2012 saw an improvement in sales of more than 4% compared to the equivalent period of the preceding year, whereas the second half saw a decline of some 8%.

In the last dozen or so years tractor registrations have varied between a low of just over 10,000 units and a high of over 17,000, says the AEA. Last year’s figure was slightly above the average, though in terms of total power sold it was some 13% above the average.

Tractor sales

Farming conditions are more subdued than they were a year ago, says the AEA, with incomes slipping by as much as 20%. The difficulties of establishing crops last autumn, plus the costs of feeding livestock, have been compounded by reduced single payments and tax bills from better times falling due.

“Accordingly, we cannot expect that the early months of the year will see the same level of activity of a year ago. But farming has good future prospects and as long as the weather permits some degree of catch-up with crop establishment then investment in the appropriate farm equipment will remain a priority for the farming community,” says the AEA’s economist Chris Evans.

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