Tractor sales only dip despite BSE
TRACTOR sales in the UK topped out at 18,615 units for 1996 – a 2% decline on the previous years total of 19,000.
That drop is modest compared with predictions made by the Agricultural Engineers Association (AEA) at the beginning of 1996 and, taking into account the BSE crisis, represents an impressive 12-months performance.
"Farming incomes, on the whole, have continued to be good," explains Graham Stannard, economist with the AEA.
"In fact, had the BSE situation not arisen, 1996 sales may have actually ended up higher than in 1995."
Even so, Mr Stannard reckons the overall negative effect of BSE on the year-end position may have been exaggerated; the slump in spring sales – following health minister, Stephen Dorrells BSE speech in parliament on Mar 20 – was, in effect, compensated for by a balancing autumn peak. It would seem many stock farmers delayed spring purchases rather than cancelled them, while the still-buoyant arable sector also put in its traditionally strong autumn performance.
Looking ahead, the AEA sees tractor sales continuing to drop, albeit slowly, until the end of the century.
"Sales levels since 1993 could not be sustained, and were now past the peak," Mr Stannard says.
For 1997, he reckons UK tractor sales will "be no more than 17,500 units".
UK tractor registrations (1996)