New tractors shine at the Ag Expo

February 14, 2008 10:41:55 PM PST
If you're holding off on making a high-ticket purchase because you're uncertain about the economy, you are not alone.

California's farmers are doing the same. Tight credit is on their minds as they gather this week at the world Ag Expo in Tulare, south of Fresno.

Dairymen and farmers are doing well with food prices on the rise, including an Iowa farmer who grows corn and soybeans.

"Last two years, the prices have been super and mainly because of ethanol. The extra demand that ethanol has caused," said Iowa corn farmer Lyle Cook.

With money coming in, shiny new tractors are catching their eyes at World Ag Expo.

Daryn Wallace runs a harvesting service. He'd like to buy a new $300,000 John Deere chopper to clear alfalfa, hay and corn.

Despite a boom cycle, though, farm country is starting to see the impact of the credit crunch.

"It makes it very difficult to get financing. Banks are kind of holding back. They're taking less risk. The finance rates, the interest rates are lower, but they're not giving them out as easily," said Visalia farmer Daryn Wallace.

Farmers and growers tell us they're conservative by nature, but even in a bad economy, they need to risk borrowing money to stay in business.

"Sometimes you just have to borrow because that's business. No business can run just on cash, or very few businesses can. So you have to borrow money at some point, so if you need equipment to farm more efficiently, you have to buy it," said Visalia orchard grower Mark Rip.

Equipment dealers are feeling pinched, too. Dan Thomas used to sell these loaders to the construction industry. With home building in a slump, he's here trying to sell to farmers.

The smallest tractor can run $30,000 to $40,000 -- a cotton picker nearly $600,000 dollars.

Just as car buyers are aware of fuel efficiency, miles per gallon, so are farmers and growers when they look at equipment like this. Except that it's measured in horsepower output per gallon of diesel.

And fuel efficiency is what dealers are using to nudge farmers into buying new equipment.


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