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Purchasing Used Tractors - Fresh Dirt from the Farmer Mentor Jim Leap

Beginning Farmer Asks:

I have successfully completed a small business savings program and now have $6,000 to purchase a used tractor that I will be able to use in a future farming enterprise. Besides our local tractor dealers and Craigslist, are there specific auction houses I should be looking at? I'd be wanting something like a mid-sized John Deere that can mow, rototill, pull shovels, pull a disc -- the mythical all-in-one. I'm also open to other suggestions. If you were looking to invest, what would you do? Any advice is appreciated.

Farmer Mentor Answers:

I think Craigslist is probably the best route for purchasing "used". I check all the time for tractors throughout California and have seen some really great deals recently on mid sized (35-50 HP) tractors. I recently bought a 2WD Massey Ferguson (MF240) on Craigslist. I paid $6,000 for it and put an additional $800 into it - mostly leaky seals. It is a really great and versatile tractor. I wish it was 4 WD but that would have been out of my price range.  The thing I really like about it - in fact the reason I bought it - is that it has creeper gearing so that it would be a great candidate for a spader if I ever had the money for one. It also has really low hours.

Seems like a low hour 30 HP Kubota without a front loader, but with 4WD, would be a nice fit for a $6,000 investment. Most folks looking for a small tractor want the front loader option so the ones without them usually don't sell fast. The other day I saw a really nice little ford 1700 on Craigslist for $2,500. I also saw a little 4 foot rototiller for less than $1,000. That would be an amazing starter set up for a beginning farmer working one or two acres. A person could put a bar and shovels on the back of the tiller and for $3,500 could be making really nice beds. Of course it is always risky buying used and sometimes things work out really well and other times things get expensive. I bought my little 4WD Ford 1700 for $4,000 and had to turn around and put $3,000 into an engine rebuild and $1,000 into front end parts. Now I have a tractor I know really well and meets my needs but it did cost more that I anticipated. The other issue with used is that you need tools, mechanical abilities and all of the "backup" materials, supplies etc. to keep the thing going, which can get real expensive real fast.


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