By Boyd Champness
A LACK of confidence in agriculture and static commodity prices have hit farm machinery sales, with national tractor sales slumping by 16% in the first quarter of this year.
National tractor sales for the first quarter of 2000 were 1660, down from 1970 in the same period last year and 2124 in 1998.
Combine harvester sales were down 30% in the same quarter.
Tractor sales have been on a slide since the peak of 1997, when 8774 tractors were sold. Last years sales were 7954.
Tractor and Machinery Association executive director Vin Delahunty told The Weekly Times poor seasons in southern Australia and lacklustre commodity prices had caused the sales slump.
In addition, deregulation of the dairy industry had contributed to “an awful lot of change and uncertainty,” he said.
Rice growers, who normally contribute to first quarter sales, were on restricted water allocations while the sugar industry was experiencing disastrous commodity prices.
And because the bulk of Australias farm machinery is imported, prices are expected to rise in the near future against the weakened Australian dollar, which will only add to the woes of the nations struggling machinery dealers.