Exports of U.S. agricultural equipment dropped 20% during the first half of 2009 compared to midyear 2008, totaling $4.7 billion down from $5.8 billion a year earlier, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). The AEM off-road equipment manufacturing trade group produces global trends reports for members consolidating U.S. Commerce Department data with other sources.

The steepest declines in American farm machinery exports were to Europe and South America and the smallest drop to Canada, with a slight gain to Australia/Oceania.

  • Exports to Europe decreased 35% to $1.7 billion, and exports to South America dropped 22% to $314 million.
  • Central America’s export purchases dropped 19% to total $324 million for January-June 2009 compared to a year earlier, and exports to Asia declined 17% for $331 million.
  • Exports to Canada decreased 1% for a total $1.5 billion, with exports to Africa dropping 6% to $133 million.
  • The only gain was recorded by Australia/Oceania, an increase of 6% for a total $367 million.

“Farm machinery exports continue to deteriorate as the global recession adversely affects most world regions, with some areas extremely hard hit by the turmoil in financial markets,” notes Charlie O’Brien, AEM vice president of agricultural services. O’Brien cites Russia as an example of countries that had been devoting substantial resources to upgrading their agriculture sectors but are now at a standstill.

“We do have to remember that exports had been very robust for several years. We need to keep that in perspective when we look at these numbers,” states O’Brien.

“With the nature of the agriculture industry, farm equipment manufacturing as a whole has fared better than other sectors such as autos and construction. We’ve been suffering from a touch of the flu, if you will, rather than a full-blown illness,” he adds. “But, manufacturers will certainly be monitoring and adjusting to changing conditions, such as reducing inventory, for example.”

The top countries buying U.S.-made farm machinery for the first half of 2009 were: 1) Canada, $1.5 billion, down 1%; 2) Australia, $344 million, up 13%; 3) Mexico, $271 million, down 12%; 4) Germany, $232 million, down 30%; 5) France, $226 million, down 8%; 6) United Kingdom, $165 million, down 29%; 7) Belgium, $136 million, down 24%; 8) China, $120 million, up 41%; 9) Russia, $111 million, down 76%; 10) Kazakhstan, $102 million, down 35%; 11) Brazil, $93 million, down 36%; 12) South Africa, $88 million, up 21%; 13) Ukraine, $75 million, down 69%.