COLUSA, Calif. — The booming economy has found its way into agriculture equipment sales, as vendors at the Colusa Farm Show say their business has been brisk in recent weeks.
Bret Adney, whose family’s Visalia, Calif.-based Valley Ag Resources was displaying pump systems at the show, credits the recently enacted $1.5 trillion tax cut for making farm equipment immediately deductible.
“This was the best January we ever had,” Adney said. “Everything’s good.”
Likewise, the Chico, Calif.-based Thomas Manufacturing is expecting 2018 to be a good sales year for its tree nut harvesters and other equipment as the economy picks up globally, company representative John Ray said.
“The phone calls are definitely starting to come in,” he said. “If you look at the whole picture of exports, it’s a good driver for us.”
That sense of optimism permeated the grounds at the 53rd annual gathering, where hundreds of vendors of agricultural goods large and small set up displays at the self-proclaimed “granddaddy of farm shows” Feb. 6-8 at the fairgrounds in Colusa.
The show included seminars on new water management regulations, tree nut cultivation and other topics as well as the annual Ag Leadership Breakfast sponsored by California State University-Chico’s College of Agriculture and its supporters.
Optimism is often a theme among Colusa vendors, as the show is one of the year’s first in the West and many stop there on the way to the much larger World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif., which this year is Feb. 13-15.
But this year’s farm show calendar comes as consumer spending has been on the upswing, driven by an 0.7 percent increase in December spending on durable goods such as autos, while incomes are up and unemployment is at a 17-year low, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. The New York Federal Reserve in December raised its estimate of U.S. gross domestic product growth in the fourth quarter of 2017 to nearly 4 percent.
At last month’s American Farm Bureau Federation convention in Nashville, Tenn., President Donald Trump touted the tax bill’s doubling of the threshold for the estate tax and the ability for companies to immediately write off the full cost of new equipment.
Further helping some businesses in California may be possible new requirements for measuring groundwater extractions and water diversions as well as new rules impacting irrigation.
The pumps that Valley Ag Resources was selling alert growers of high levels of bicarbonates and the acidity in irrigation water so they use treatments to lower the levels.
“We’re in the water treatment business,” Adney said.
Sometimes there are other factors. The Tank Depot, whose stores in Anderson, Calif., and Ukiah, Calif., are among nine nationwide, are selling more water tanks because of the legalization of cannabis for both medical and recreational uses, said Tom Winslow, who handles operations for the business. Also aiding sales are new fire safety regulations for newly constructed buildings, he said.
Nonetheless, the Colusa Farm Show is a good place for the business to show its wide array of water and fertilizer tanks.
“I have a lot of friends here,” he said.
Other vendors agreed. Overall equipment sales are up, said Don Mayo of Orchard Machinery Corp. in Yuba City, Calif.
“Our sales numbers are quite good,” Mayo said. He added that most customers encountered at the Colusa Farm Show are there to look, but sometimes the conversations lead to later sales.