It's fun to watch statistics, to see how sales are shaping up. I'm sure livestock producers reading this are enjoying the direction of market states these days for hog and beef prices (provided you have animals to sell). Grain price stats are a little more sobering and given that a lot of analysts are watching equipment sales.
The latest report on February numbers released by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers last week look pretty good in the face of a market where a lot of people keep saying they're waiting for the "other food to fall." With crop prices softer than in previous years, many expected sales to slide - so far they're sticking to historic norms (as the chart on this page shows).
Combine sales are slipping year-over-year - but they tend to be soft the first two months of the year since you don't need a combine in February. While February sales are down 22% the year over year comparison is off just 0.6%.
Four-wheel drive tractors are also down - off 13% for February compared to February 2013, and off 9.3% for the year so far compared to last year.
Yet if you look at the chart on this page you'll see that the first two months of the year are essentially tracking the average. It's perspective to keep in mind. Demand remains solid and farmers who want to keep their inventory fresh are turning to leases as one way to get that done - at least until Congress repairs that Section 179 deduction.
As you look at the chart you'll see that sales remain above the five-year average so far this year, and only a little softer than 2013 numbers. There will be dips in certain segments, but rising strength in the under-40 market as the housing market slowly revives will help there. We're watching equipment buying trends for 2014 and so far, so good. Stay tuned.