Last week, I attended the annual Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) event. Highlights included numerous ride-and-drives of the latest self-propelled sprayers, plenty of pork-based food and, of course, the awarding of the annual ShowStopper Award, given to the most “showstopping product” at the show.
Still, for me, one of the most gratifying parts of MAGIE 2012 was getting the chance to talk with many of my industry peers on exactly how the year is playing out for them across the country. By now, everyone has been following the nationwide drought that has negatively impacted much of the country’s corn and soybean crop. In fact, an observer didn’t need to look very far from the MAGIE fairgrounds in Bloomington, IL, to find many dried up corn stalks and already plowed under fields as witness to this agricultural tragedy.
Given these conditions – and all the talk from many growers who have already given up on their crops for 2012 – I half expected to find ag equipment manufacturers were beginning to feel some of this downturn in fortunes. Yet, according to virtually all the company representatives I spoke with at MAGIE, demand for their products among ag retailers and their grower-customers remains strong.
“No, we haven’t noticed any kind of slowdown because of the drought,” numerous representatives told me. “We are still making as many products as we were at the beginning of the year and no one has been calling us to cancel any existing orders.”
About the only effect the Drought of 2012 seems to have had on equipment manufacturers is to shift where their products are being shipped to. “We haven’t seen any kind of pull-back in our overall production,” said one manufacturer rep. “However, instead of shipping so many products to the Midwest during the most recent quarter, some of those units have ended up going to buyers in other parts of the country such as the Pacific Northwest.”
So ag equipment is weathering the drought just fine. And that’s great news for the rest of agriculture, as everyone looks to rebound going into 2013.