Ag equipment sales generally continue to pull more weight than last year despite ongoing economic issues in the sector compounded by challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sales of all farm tractors in the U.S. increased 14% from January through July this year compared to the same period in 2019, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).

That includes a 14.3% jump in the sale of all two-wheel drive tractors. Four-wheel drive tractor sales, however, went in reverse with 12.8% fewer sales the first seven months of this year compared to a year ago.

Combine sales posted a slight gain (4.1%) through July compared to last year.

Meanwhile, the used ag equipment market continues to adjust to a reduction in live auctions by shifting to online auctions, sales and traditional print advertising.

Mark Stock, co-founder of BigIron Auctions, discussed the used equipment market during the Farm Progress Show media day.

“The year 2020 was supposed to be perfect vision. But we’re seeing a sight we never expected to see, the shifting of the way we’re supposed to do business,” Stock told FarmWeek. “Now we’ve got to do (more sales) virtually or through social media. It’s been an interesting shift.”

Overall, the used ag equipment inventory seems to be down this year, which helps hold the value of what’s on the market, according to Stock.

“A lot of the open outcry sales normally scheduled have been canceled due to crowd restrictions and the amount of merchandise being sold is considerably less,” Stock said. “Thus, the stuff being sold increased in value.

“Combine sales are up year over year, and we saw planters this spring sell well,” he noted. “Tractors are always in good demand, especially since a lot of manufacturers had to slow down production with their labor force (amid COVID-19 issues and restrictions).”

Stock and his brother, Ron, started BigIron Auctions in 2009 to provide an online auction service for those buying and selling used ag equipment.

“In 2001, we started broadcasting auctions in real time over the internet,” Mark said. “We noticed the internet was something that was going to be a game-changer in the auction business. So, in 2009 we launched BigIron and it just took off.”

BigIron plans to sell more than 9,200 items from more than 1,100 sellers in 29 states through its online auction service this month. The service allows buyers to contact sellers for information about each piece of equipment throughout the auction process.

“Farmers like to buy from farmers, and they like to ask questions,” Stock said from the site of the 2020 Farm Progress Show, which was canceled to the public due to the pandemic and adapted a virtual format. “That’s why they like to go to farm shows.”

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