At a small combination grocery store, gas station, and John Deere dealership in the town of Tygh Valley, Oregon sat a brand new model 95 John Deere self-propelled combine with a 15′ grain platform. The year was 1954. The owner of the dealership for the prior 25 years, along with the behemoth’s proud new owner, stood among the group of local ranchers & farmers who had gathered to exclaim. “How large a combine does one need? Can the cost of $10,000 ever be recouped?”
As a 14 year old boy, the combine appeared to be real big and very “neat”! Not being able to see from the perspective of those who had farmed with horses and steel wheeled tractors probably made me less doubtful of the need, or as shocked at the $10,000.00 cost. Now 60-odd years later I better understand what those men were thinking. Their perspective was a result of having grown up on small farms with smaller farm equipment. The change they had seen was much greater than that which a 14 year old had experienced. This is the same today as it was then. The change one has seen gives them their own reckoning point.
Meanwhile, farm equipment has continued getting bigger. Today, 300 horsepower tractors don’t seem too large to my younger customers – after all, they grew up using 100 and 150 horsepower tractors.
As I witness the increasing size of each new generation of farm equipment, I recall the cover of an old farm magazine I once saw, which pictured a giant corn planter imposed over a map of the entire United States and making one pass from east to west! One of my concerns over the increasing size of farm equipment is that it encourages larger and larger farms. The equipment costs need to be spread over more units of production, so more ground is needed. This translates to larger but fewer farms.
With fewer farms, our small town businesses suffer from having fewer farmers (customers). The population grows in the larger regional towns, where corporate big box stores move in, adding to the difficulty of running a business in a small town. As a result we see empty stores and Main Streets all across rural America.
So to what extent does large farm equipment contribute to the decline of the rural America that all farm people love? Today, the store in Tygh Valley that sold the Model 95 combine in 1954 is long gone. All that’s left of the town are a few homes and a cemetery. If farms & equipment get much bigger, will we be able to continue passing on our rural way of life to our children and grandchildren?
At some time or another, everyone needs to purchase new – usually larger – farm equipment. When strong commodities prices prevail and we have plenty of taxable income, purchasing new farm equipment makes good financial sense.
But with our currently weak commodities prices, we all turn our attention to finding ways to reduce expenses to maintain a taxable income. One way is extending the useful life & future trade in value of farm equipment through care & maintenance. When strong commodities prices return and we trade in or sell that old implement, it will become someone else’s “new” equipment. It really is amazing how much value a well-cared for piece of equipment retains relative to one that was poorly cared for.
We all know that reading the owner’s manual and following the recommended maintenance procedure will result in a longer useful life for that piece of equipment, whether it’s a combine or a loader mounted on a tractor. But I must admit that I am probably as guilty as anyone of overlooking simple things that could have helped avoid larger more costly equipment repairs.
For example, how many of us have changed engine coolant as often as recommended, maintained tire pressures, greased every fitting regardless of how much time it took, or fixed a small break in a disc frame before it became a major break? The list could go on and on.
We’ve all been to farm sales where we admired the excellent care someone has taken with their equipment, just as we have all seen equipment that has been neglected and know the results. The farm that has well-cared for equipment is usually a successful farm all the way around, even though it may not have a lot of new equipment.
Good farm prices will return, and new equipment sales will pick back up. But regardless of whether farm prices are up or down, taking care of farm equipment will always add to the bottom line of any operation.
Brand New Listings!
- Great Plains grain drill (20 ft) –10” spacing, 3-pt.
- Donahue Trailer (35 ft)
- 1610 John Deere chisel plow (35ft)
- 4455 John Deere tractor, 4wd, power shift, showing 6500 hours
- John Deere 158 loader with grapple
This equipment has just arrived – call for prices or visit our Buhl, Idaho equipment sales lot.
If you’re on this website, chances are that you’re shopping online for farm equipment. And while buying farm equipment online can be convenient, savvy farmers will want to keep several considerations in mind. Read on for our “Top 3 Online Equipment Shopping Tips” …
Tip 1: Know What to Look For.
Shopping for used farm equipment in general can be tricky – even more so when shopping online. When selecting our used farm equipment inventory, our policy is never to purchase equipment that has not undergone a careful visual inspection. As the old saying goes, “Paint can cover a multitude of flaws.” So can grease, for that matter. Consider, then, the risks inherent in shopping from a photo!
When dealing on websites like Craigslist, look at photos carefully, making certain that you’re seeing the implement from all angles. High resolution photos are preferable. Don’t hesitate to ask for close-ups of areas where wear & tear are likely to be seen.
Your risk as a buyer increases with the mechanical complexity of the implement. Our advice for tractor buyers is old fashioned but still holds true: “Never buy a tractor you without a test drive.” There are a multitude of unknowns when buying a tractor, from hydraulic pressure, to the condition of the transmission, to the number of hours on the engine. (Ask about our custom equipment locating service if you’re unable to find a tractor locally – our extensive network of trusted equipment contacts extends your geographic reach while removing the risk of dealing with an unknown party.)
Tip 2: Become Familiar With the Seller.
Knowing the reputation of the party with whom you are dealing can eliminate many of the concerns outlined in Tip 1. But if you’re buying from someone online from the first time, ask if he or she can provide you with references from satisfied customers. It’s often said that trust is a key ingredient in a capitalistic system. So, while honest sellers greatly outnumber dishonest sellers, here’s our word of advice: “Trust, but verify.” (And no, we didn’t coin the phrase – Ronald Reagan did.)
Tip 3: Plan for Unplanned Costs.
A common misconception is that Internet has reduced the prices farmers pay for used farm equipment. In fact, the opportunity to compare equipment over a wider area has had the opposite effect, raising implement prices across the board by an estimated 30-40%.
Other cost-related matters to keep in mind include planning for freight hauling costs. If purchasing equipment off our retail equipment sales lot, the cost of long-distance freight is already factored into the price, and getting it home to your farm from our equipment lot is simple. Often, you can hitch your tractor up to a newly purchased implement and drive it right off the lot. If other cases, we can load your purchase onto your truck or trailer free of charge. (We also provide local delivery at a nominal cost.) But when purchasing equipment online, logistics can be an expensive & labor-intensive matter. Long distance freight is usually not included in the purchase price of an implement bought or sold online. Generally, the heavier the implement, the higher your freight cost per mile. Also, be sure to plan for the mechanics of getting your implement safely unloaded once it reaches your farm.
Finally, keep in mind that when you buy it online, it’s yours, period. Purchase an implement from a local dealership, and chances are that if you’re dissatisfied with the piece after a couple uses, you can either return it or trade it back in for a different implement. In the case of an implement purchased online, if you buy it, you own it, even if it the purchase turns out to be a disappointment.
The Internet has had a major impact on the used farm equipment market – and in our opinion, sellers, not buyers, have reaped the majority of the benefits. When purchasing equipment online, the farmer winds up paying a higher price, taking on more risk, and expending more effort to purchase a used farm implement than he did in the pre-Internet era. Brand new equipment is the only thing you can buy online with 100% confidence.