A cocktail of doubts over the profitability of farming enterprises, rising costs of new machinery and favourable exchange rates have led to a 100% increase in the number of Cheffins on-site dispersal sales hosted on behalf of farmers for the first six months of this year. With increased demand for second-hand stock, the firm’s on-site sales exceeded £4 million during the first half of this year (200% increase on same six months in 2016).

“Many of the sales conducted in the past six months have been complete dispersal sales following the farmer’s decision to retire and to enter into contracting arrangements,” said Cheffins chairman Bill King. “We have had other farmers who are re-structuring following changes to farming policy and we have seen an increase in those reviewing or bringing forward retirement plans as a result of faltering profitability.”

Commodity prices have improved, he added, but this has been countered by increasing input costs and this, coupled with the increasing costs of new machinery, has had a knock-on effect on the demand for second-hand equipment. “Just as input costs have risen due to a weaker pound and more expensive imports, export trade has been strong which has seen a sharp rise in the levels of second-hand machinery exported to Europe. This is affecting supply and we are seeing intense competitive bidding for the best stock on offer.”

“We have seen an increase in the numbers of farmers turning to on-site sales as they come to realise that auction is the most profitable way to dispose of machinery and buyers looking to acquire good quality second hand kit as an alternative to buying new.” This has resulted in some strong prices paid over the past six months, including £116,500 for a 2015 Claas Lexion 620 combine harvester and £104,500 for a 2013 Amazone Pantera 4001 self-propelled sprayer.