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March 9, 2023

Tractor Sales take a hit in February

The 2023 Year has now seen another sizeable dip in Tractor Sales, this time  in February which were down 29% on the same month last year and are now down 27% for the year to date.

All states except for the Northern Territory, experienced a decline in sales for the second consecutive month. Queensland was down 21%, NSW down 38% and Victoria recorded a drop up 27%. Sales in Western Australia were down 18%, South Australia recorded a 36% decline and Tasmania was off 27% for the month with sales in the NT finishing 43% ahead.

Not surprisingly, all machine categories were down this month with the small under 40 hp (30kw) category, down 5%, the 40 to 100hp (30-75kw) range was down 31% in the month and the 100 to 200hp (75-150 kw) category was also down, this time by 27%. Sales in the large 200 hp (150kw) PLUS range took a massive hit to be off 60% on the same month last year.

Sales of Combine Harvesters remained healthy in February supplying the back end of this year’s harvest with a further 20 units being delivered in the month. Baler sales were in line with last year and sales of Out – Front Mowers continued their downward trend, off by 3% this month.

There would appear to be 3 main reasons for this drop off.

  1. Stock Availability- Supply of machines out of the US at present is very slow with lead times often stretching beyond 12 months with the situation out of Europe only slightly better.
  2. Interest Rate Increases-having an effect on the smaller/ mid-size range.
  3. Delays in processing RoRo (roll on roll off) product at Australian Ports.

New vehicle offshore pre-loading biosecurity requirements introduced by the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources require all new and used vehicles imported to Australia to meet strict new biosecurity requirements before being allowed entry into the country. These requirements include inspections, treatment if necessary, and documentation to verify compliance.

A senior industry figure contacted by the TMA has confirmed these additional regulations are creating significant bottlenecks at the wharves, with long waiting times for shipping vessels to be processed.

Under the new regulations, if any foreign material is found on any item of imported machinery, the whole shipment is put on hold for de-seeding and further cleaning. This slow and manual process can only take place at approved facilities causing enormous inefficiencies on the system, leading to huge volumes of vehicles left in quarantine awaiting processing.

The delays are also causing significant challenges for shipping companies, with many vessels being forced to divert to other ports in the region.

To address these challenges, the Australian Government has announced a range of measures aimed at improving the efficiency of the shipping industry. These measures include increased investment in biosecurity infrastructure and additional resources to support the processing of incoming vessels.

Despite these efforts, industry experts warn the processing delays are likely to continue for some time with the complex nature of the biosecurity requirements meaning it is unlikely these issues will be resolved any time soon.  Particularly affected will be farmers looking to sow winter crops and harvest crops such as grapes due to an unprecedented backlog in vehicle processing leaving their incoming machinery stuck in ports around the country.