Tractor sales support buoyant ag outlook, but challenges must be managed if trajectory to be maintained: Case IH GM
31 Aug 2022
With the recent news of tractor sales hitting all-time highs and many ag machinery dealers enjoying their most buoyant sales figures on record, the question must be asked: 'can the momentum be sustained?'
The tractor sales figures are just one part of a potentially positive outlook for agriculture in the short-term, with commodity prices remaining strong and favourable weather patterns for many regions.
It's a good position to be in, says Case IH Australia/New Zealand General Manager Pete McCann, but he acknowledges there remains a number of challenges for the industry and some potential issues that will need to be closely managed to ensure farmers, and Australian agriculture, keep kicking the goals of recent times.
"There is certainly reason for optimism and many farmers and businesses have enjoyed the better times post-drought, while also acknowledging that flooding has severely impacted a number of regions in the past year," Pete said. "We're also currently enjoying the return of field days which are allowing Case IH staff to get back in front of customers after a lengthy hiatus and demand for machinery is very high, as highlighted by the TMA report from earlier this month.
"We're certainly not getting too far ahead of ourselves though and acknowledge that the likes of supply chain disruptions and rising input costs for all farm businesses are significant issues and will remain so in the short-term."
Pete said dealers were still receiving a high volume of orders for tractors and headers in particular, and while global supply chain shortages were still causing some issues, parts availability had improved significantly.
"In the past two years, both the company and our dealers have been stocking up to ensure we have a solid parts supply when and where our customers need it most, and that's really starting to pay off," Pete said. "Our dealers have been doing a fantastic job of managing the high demand from customers for both machinery and parts, and in turn balancing this with supply constraints, and I appreciate the understanding and patience of our customers on whom this is impacting," he said.
"There's no doubt right across the ag machinery sector, there are labour shortages, particularly in terms of apprentices and qualified technicians. The good news though is that if you're a school leaver, or looking for a career change, there's never been a better time to enter the industry and there's some very attractive opportunities right now across our dealership network" - Pete McCann, General Manager Case IH AU/NZ
Pete said the other issue impacting on the delivery of machinery on-farm was shipping delays and port congestion, and delays associated with the quarantine inspection process.
"These issues are largely out of our hands but we are making representations where appropriate to the relevant authorities about the urgency in clearing this machinery as quickly as possible so it gets to the farmers who are relying on it for the running of their businesses," Pete said.
"The current foot-and-mouth disease threat requires heightened levels of attention which we support 100% – FMD would devastate our industry so we welcome any additional measures that may be required. The inspection delays we're experiencing though have been an issue for a long time and we'd hope for ongoing efficiencies in this area, while still maintaining the biosecurity vigilance our nation is renowned for."
Pete said the company also had recruitment high on its priority list for the year ahead, with dealerships embarking on their own employment drives and programs, and Case IH investigating other initiatives, in conjunction with dealers, to attract new staff and retain existing employees.
"There's no doubt right across the ag machinery sector, there are labour shortages, particularly in terms of apprentices and qualified technicians. The good news though is that if you're a school leaver, or looking for a career change, there's never been a better time to enter the industry and there's some very attractive opportunities right now across our dealership network," he said.
Case IH was also continuing to invest in new machinery and technology for its customers, welcoming to the local market this year the likes of the new Patriot 50 Series and Austoft 9000 Series sugarcane harvesters, and the first of the new-generation AFS Connect Optums were arriving.
"We're always looking at how to improve our existing ranges for local customers, too, this year launching two new Farmall JXM models and bringing the Stage V Pumas to Australia and New Zealand. Ongoing innovation and technology breakthroughs are where we can offer the greatest value for our customers, giving them the tools to refine their business operations and increase their productivity in an increasingly competitive global market."
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