Farmer Mark Borba isn't looking to buy a shiny new tractor this year at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California. He tends to some 9,000 acres of crops in the drought-stricken San Joaquin Valley, and about one-third of it will be pulled from production.
"I may wander around the grounds for an hour and see all the stuff that I'd like to buy, but no way am I buying anything," said Borba, who grows everything from almonds and garlic to lettuce, tomatoes and onions. "We're over-equipped because we've got equipment to farm 9,000 acres, and we'll probably farm less than 6,000 because of the drought."
The Expo, which runs through Thursday, is the world's largest outdoor farm machinery show. An estimated 100,000 people are expected to view the latest ag machinery and products from 1,500 exhibitors, including Deere, AGCO, Case IH.
But they're not alone: Nontraditional agricultural equipment firms are also on hand, showing off smart water technology, agricultural drones, dairy robotics and mechanized harvesting. Others, like AGCO, are among longtime equipment suppliers that are promoting new precision agricultural technology at the show.
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Robert Crain, AGCO's senior VP and general manager of the Americas, said the row crop machinery is the company's "biggest headwind now," while machinery tied to more robust livestock sector "is very, very good. The hay business, for example, and up until very recently, the dairy business, has been good for us."
Competition at the Expo is so fierce that there's talk about discounting this year, particularly for used tractors and combines.
"The used equipment has been flooding the market," said Charlie Pitigliano, who manages about 10,000 acres of farmland in the San Joaquin Valley. Pitigliano said the lower price of key row crops has led to some used machinery prices to decline by as much as 20 percent.
Pitigliano, who grows wheat, corn and wine grapes, also blames the drought for the softer used farm equipment market. "Farmers are not going to buy equipment if they can get by with what they have now," he said.