My wife and I are accidental hobby farmers and wanna-be real farmers. Our life’s goal is for me to continue to write for a steady stream of income while we pursue our dream of maintaining a small farm in rural Tennessee. With that in mind, I no longer dream of the next motorcycle, boat, or even new car. Now I dream of tractors, implements, and other agriculture/acreage equipment. At forty years old, I guess you could say I finally grew up and decided what I wanted to be.
We currently have a 50+ year old Ford tractor that I love dearly. The only problem is you just about have to be a mechanic to use it as you never know what kind of sneaky mechanical glitch is about to rear its head. It’s a hard working tractor with me in the seat, but I would like to have something newer that my wife could easily operate without having to constantly say, “What’s that noise?” or “How’s the oil pressure?” With that in mind I’ve found myself online window shopping for tractors as of late. I love the old American classic’s like John Deere, Ford, International, etc., unfortunately… they basically don’t exist anymore.
Ford is no longer in the tractor business, with the New Holland brand occupying their slot with the famous Ford blue paint. John Deere is of course still there (sort of), as is the Case-IH branded stuff (also sort of). While looking at the John Deere 5045 and drooling, I noticed they were made in India. Not INDIANA, but INDIA. What??? The American icon isn’t made in America?
It turns out there are zero… that’s right, zero utility or compact tractors made in the USA anymore. Branson, KIOTI, LS, and TYM are all made in South Korea. Case and New Holland tractors aren’t even made by Case or New Holland, they are made by LS in South Korea. It’s the same tractor with a different sticker slapped on the side. Even the American icon John Deere is made in India, the home of Mahindra tractors. And of course Kabota tractors are made in Japan.
America, once the home of tractor production with the Ford, JD, and IH tractors made right here in the USA, which could be found sitting on nearly every large enough piece of dirt… are now no longer there. Well that sure takes brand loyalty out of my purchasing equation. Why should I care if a tractor has the iconic John Deere green if it is made right alongside a red Mahindra in India? At least Mahindra doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not.
Obviously having American branded products produced elsewhere isn’t a new thing, but when you can’t even get an American made tractor… an icon of Americana, it’s just a kick in the gut. When you really get down in the weeds and realize how even on the most basic level we are no longer a country that produces, it’s kind of scary. You don’t have to be a tin foil hat wearing conspiracy theorist to wonder just how long a country that no longer produces its own products can remain anywhere near the top.
I guess I’ll be buying another old worn out American made tractor that needs my TLC. Besides, the old school breaker point fired models are naturally EMP proof anyway 😉
Since the above post, my wife and I purchased this pre-outsourced 1992 John Deere 2155 4WD with a front end loader. I feel much better going used with an actual John Deere made John Deere.