Farmers are resilient. Despite the news of lower prices, reduced demand and tighter margins there's nothing like a farm show to bring out your best.
Last week I was at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Ky., and apparently so were most of you. The crowds were huge and the mood among exhibitors was one of a bit of 'surprise.' Sure there are situations where it was more look than buy, but several exhibitors I talked with shared they were pleasantly surprised by farmer attitudes.
The challenge these companies are finding is with dealers. Lower sales and a need to preserve cash have several dealer slowing their inventory investment. That means fewer machines on the lot (there are still a few) and perhaps tight supplies at critical times of the season. One major exhibitor shared that farmer attitudes were great, dealers less so. I understand. Just as a farmer makes a bet each season to grow a crop, the dealer bets on you coming in to buy.
And frankly with equipment sales off as far as they are in some categories, there's concern out there. You wouldn't have known it in Louisville. Of course, there were some sales being made right on the show floor, but that was for smaller gear.
Shortliners reported interest in there equipment. Farmers may not buy a new tractor this year, but may upgrade a loader. Of course livestock producers (and there's a lot of that around this show) have reason to be optimistic and that may have helped the crowd's attitude too.
It never ceases to amaze me how you, dear reader, look adversity in the eye and say "I'll make it right through." Adversity doesn't stop a farm from continuing on, and many of you have figured that out.
Thanks for your optimism in the face of a lot of negative news on the realities of farm costs for 2015. We'll see how it goes.
I did run into something fun, my colleague Max Armstrong signing hats at the show. He does like to talk to farmers and the line was long enough with people who wanted to get their picture with Max and perhaps talk about a vintage tractor or two. You can see him at work on this page.
NFMS pulls in a wide range of visitors and exhibitors. It's always a fun show to be part of, and 2015 was no different. Good luck as spring planting approaches.