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New From the Mail Bag

Product comparisons for farm equipment? And just how are ag equipment exports doing?

Sometimes the "mailbag" is a great resource. Of course these days it's more the "inbox bag" but you know what I mean. Came across two items this week of an equipment nature I thought readers would find interesting.

First up is a new equipment buying tool that Agco has come up with, and while not a new idea for the Web it's fresh for farm country. The company has come up with a new service that allows you to compare service that allows you to really compare equipment. The idea, which is common in the auto industry, offers you a unique way to look at machines.

You can check it out at Find the equipment you want to look at and start picking brands and models, the site does the rest. They've pulled together a lot of information here. Just a cursory review of the combine area (I am friends with a combine you know) shows you everything from engine size to length of unloading spouts. Very interesting.

The company notes that farmers like to compare equipment (that's a good reason to attend a farm show too) when purchasing and this system can streamline the process. And why would Agco do this - showing competitive models where it doesn't always win on specs? "By increasing the overall transparency throughout the decision-making process we help farmers make better decisions through better information - and at the same time show Agco products are comparable and competitive to the other major brands in the industry," says Tim Miller, manager, Agco Academy, in a company press statement.

The auto industry is all over this kind of service, and it makes picking cars and trucks easier because you can compare a machine of interest with other comparable vehicles on one Web site. Agco will have to keep that data current, but it's an interesting service worth checking out. And you can learn more about it at Agco's exhibit at the 2010 Farm Progress Show and 2010 Husker Harvest Days events.

Exporting farm equipment

Our friends at the Association of Equipment Manufacturers are reporting mid-year U.S. ag equipment exports are up 4% over 2009 figures. AEM consolidates U.S. Commerce Dept. data with other sources into global trend reports for members.

Exports are a more significant part of U.S. farm equipment makers' business these days and those positive numbers are good news, says Charlie O'Brien, AEM vice president, agricultural sector. In a press statement, O'Brien notes that "while some economies are rebounding faster than the United States there is still uncertainty in some regions."

And while those exports are rising, they could be going up faster. O'Brien notes that Congress could be doing more to move those free trade agreements along - so far critical agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea are languishing on the desks of lawmakers. He says countries around the world are negotiating their own FTAs and the U.S. is involved in less than 25% of those agreements "which ultimately means a loss of American jobs."

Here's a look at key markets:

  • Exports to Central America and Asia showed the most growth - a 44% gain for Central America; up 29% for Asia.
  • European exports fell 19%
  • Exports to Africa fell 13%
  • South America boosted imports by 19%.
  • Canada saw imports of U.S. farm equipment rise 15%
  • Exports to Australia/Oceania rose 3%

Here's a look at the Top 10 destinations for U.S. ag machinery for the January to June 2010 period:

1) Canada - $1.8 billion
2) Mexico - $392 million
3) Australia - $350 million
4) Germany - $216 million
5) China - $184 million
6) France - $173 million
7) United Kingdom - $151 million
8) Brazil - $133 million
9) Netherlands - $118 million
10) Russia - $111 million

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