Second hand farm machinery sales ‘end year strongly’

An on-farm auction at Montpelier Farm Ltd in Writtle, near Chelmsford, run by East Anglian-based agr

An on-farm auction at Montpelier Farm Ltd in Writtle, near Chelmsford, run by East Anglian-based agricultural auctioneers Cheffins. - Credit: Archant

Demand remains high for second-hand farm machinery - in spite of a cash squeeze on the agricultural sector, according to an East Anglian auctioneer.

An on-farm auction at Montpelier Farm Ltd in Writtle, near Chelmsford, run by East Anglian-based agr

An on-farm auction at Montpelier Farm Ltd in Writtle, near Chelmsford, run by East Anglian-based agricultural auctioneers Cheffins. - Credit: Archant

Cheffins says 2015 was a challenging year for the second-hand machinery market, with the pound staying strong against the euro, falling commodity prices and an increase in import duties in certain countries.

Political uncertainty in Eastern Europe and diminishing confidence in the industry as a whole has also contributed to the problem, it said.

But it believes there is cause for optimism in 2016 – with a strong end to the year demonstrating that demand remains high among farmers and dealers. Auctioneer Bill Pepper said: “The first half of 2015 was on a par with previous years. Despite the burgeoning exchange rates, the sale ground was bursting at the seams with machinery. Overseas buyers flocked to the auctions and sale results were very much in line with our expectations.

“There were a few storm clouds gathering, the aforementioned exchange rates were proving worrying, conflicts in a number of our key markets weren’t exactly helping and the spot/forward prices for agricultural products were equally unsettling. But despite all this, we posted some near record sales early on.”

A particular highlight included two sales for Paul Rackham, of Camp Farm, Roudham, near Thetford. The first was the dispersal of his entire collection of vintage tractors, which raised £1.5m and included a Holt 75 Crawler from the First World War that topped, £150,000 and the second was the sale of his Ferguson tractor collection that made £500,000.

Elsewhere, a dispersal sale at Montpelier Farm near Wickford in Essex proved popular, as well as a similar sale for M and S Raven near March in Cambridgeshire.

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“It was over the summer that trading conditions became difficult – with September and October particularly challenging,” Mr Pepper continued. “There was a near perfect storm that battered the second hand trade. Currencies were not in our favour as the pound swelled in value, nudging almost £1.50 against the euro, before latterly easing back. The realisation of poor harvest prices also proved a double whammy,” said Mr Pepper.

Cheffins hold the world’s largest monthly second-hand machinery auction at its showground in Sutton near Ely – attracting interest from across the globe.

Mr Pepper said November and December’s sales had proved particularly buoyant and that – coupled with recent dispersal sales – there was cause for optimism moving into 2016.

“Top sellers in December included Massey Ferguson and New Holland tractors in addition to JCB 3 CXs,” he said. “Northern Irish trade was quite buoyant and snapped up the sharper presented tractors. Sri Lankan buyers were also back in the market for 3CXs and bought just about every available machine.”

There appeared to be “light at the end of the tunnel”, in spite of the strength of the pound and a lack of exports, he added.t

“There’s clearly pent up demand for good quality, low houred machinery as an alternative to buying new. Vendors just need to be realistic as prices have to be keen to take account of the currency factor,” he said.

“No doubt 2016 will see another rollercoaster year. Exchange rates, commodity prices and geo-political issues – such as the trade embargo due to the Ukraine civil war and the Syrian conflict unsettling the whole of the Middle East – should all be watched closely, and the looming EU referendum could well have an effect. But even at this early stage there’s cause for optimism. There will be plenty of opportunity for farmers who either want to cash in on their second-hand machinery or snap up a bargain.”