Farmers Choosing Older Tractors Over New, Tech-Loaded Models They Can’t Fix

Newer isn’t always better. Farmers, especially in the Midwest, are going back to older tractors over the new and fancy models available today, according to a report by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The older tractors are easier to repair and cheaper than the new models. As with any supply and demand situation, this is causing the price of old models to skyrocket.

While the initial cost of an older model may be pricey, the farmers can save a bunch by being able to fix the tractors themselves. A new tractor with all the tech can cost around $150,000, while one built a few decades ago would cost a third of that.

New, tech-heavy tractors usually require a dealership to make any necessary fixes which can cost tens of thousands of dollars as opposed to older models where farmers can wrench on it themselves. So now, tractors built around 1980 or earlier cause bidding wars at auctions.

The report claims that BigIron Auctions, a Nebraska-based dealer that auctioned 3,300 pieces of farm equipment online in two days last month, sold 27 John Deere 4440 tractors through 2019. The 4440 model was built between 1977 and 1982 and was the most popular of the company’s “Iron Horse” series of tractors.

For reference, the 4440 models will last on average between 12,000 to 15,000 hours. A 1980 John Deere 4440 with 2,147 hours on it sold for $43,500 at a farm estate auction. Likewise, a 1979 John Deere 4640 with only 826 hours on it sold for $61,000 at auction.

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