Sense of optimism at big machinery show at Newark

A record attendance flocked to the country's largest agricultural machinery show at the Newark showground.

The crowds included large numbers from across the eastern counties at the 30th annual LAMMA Show, which was organised by the Lincolnshire Agricultural Machinery Association.

There was a buoyant mood at the two-day event, which now covers the whole of the showground, and organisers had to turn away about 75 potential exhibitors.

With close to 700 stands and displays, many offering a shop window to small firms and manufacturers, it was clearly the opportunity to do business.

Chris Evans, of the Agricultural Engineers' Association, said the trade was expecting a small increase in business on the back of improved fortunes for some arable farmers, especially in the eastern counties. There had been much more interest in combines, partly because some farmers enjoyed a bit of a windfall.

Farmers who had not sold their grain forward had done much better, said Mr Evans, who is the AEA's chief economist. 'They've got money and now's the time to spend it,' he added.

'If the cereal side hadn't turned around, I would have been expecting quite a dive this year,' he added. The latest figures from the AEA revealed that a total of 13,347 tractors were sold last year but against a national decline of 11pc, sales in the east fell by just 5.8pc to a total of 1,715 units.

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And the specialist engineering firms were cheerful. John Cousins, managing director of the family business at Emneth, close to the Norfolk border, said that farmers were in the mood to do business.

In the firm's diamond jubilee year, Mr Cousins said that many were looking to upgrade to some bigger equipment especially to work the land ahead of 12-row sugar beet drills.

Cousins of Emneth, which had been founded by his father, Norman in 1951, currently employed about 25 staff making a range of hard-wearing cultivation equipment.

And Hockwold-based Everett Brothers, of Cowles Drove, was attracting interest, said sales manager Karl Arndt. A new range of Agronomic three-row potato planters, with a belt mechanism to plant from 25mm to 75mm tubers, caught the eye of many visitors.

Mr Arndt, who has been the company about five years, said that it could be tractor-mounted or trailed. Two of the leading growers, Russell Smith, of Duxford, and Frederick Hiam, of Brandon, had ordered machines, he added.

The firm, which is run by brothers Brian and Bernie Everett, employs about 25 specialist engineers.

n A fleet purchasing arrangement between East Anglian buying group, AtlasFram and Case IH, generated record business for members last year.

While national tractor sales dropped by 11pc, AtlasFram group's machinery scheme bought 18pc more Case IH tractors than the previous year.

Jon Fovargue, machinery manager for AtlasFram, said: 'We purchase more than �16m of machinery annually on behalf of members, so if it's on the farm and machinery-related there's a very good chance that we have a supplier who will be able to meet our their requirements.'

Andrew Whiley, major accounts manager for Case IH, said: 'The scheme is now in its 10th year and continues to grow, attracting to the CASE IH brand many new customers who are able to achieve significant savings on the cost of their purchases.'