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Online auctions

12/14/2010 @ 4:11pm


Scott Cupps is not new to the idea of online auctions. The farmer from Shell Knob, Missouri, has sold roughly 20 pieces of equipment through online methods. He has had his share of success and disappointment with the process.

For him, the small farming community around him doesn’t always have an interest in what he’s trying to sell. “We live in an area that doesn’t have what I consider an ag base,” Cupps explains. “A lot of cattle and pasture crop farms are around us. There isn’t much demand in the area for some of the stuff we have because it’s for row-crop farming.”

Being able to market to farmers nationwide who might be more interested in what he’s selling has been a huge benefit. He has seen some people pay more than he thought the equipment was worth – sometimes four or five times as much.

Cupps uses eBay and auctiontime.com to sell his equipment. The two sites don’t focus strictly on agricultural equipment, and Cupps has seen some issues with nonfarmer bidders. “These people don’t know much about farm equipment or farming in general. If the equipment breaks, they have a problem with you,” he says. “They usually don’t understand how to properly care for the equipment.”

On the other hand, Cupps has had very good luck as a buyer using the online sites. He estimates that about 25% of the family’s equipment has been bought online. To ensure the quality of equipment, Cupps always contacts the person selling it prior to bidding on it.

“eBay is more of an advertising tool than a true auction,” he says. “I’ll get in contact with the person who is selling it, and if it’s reasonably close, we’ll drive to see it in person.”

Greg “Machinery Pete” Peterson says some farmers get frustrated with sites such as eBay because of the reserved listings. Peterson says it’s not uncommon for people to have the winning bids on 10 different items, but not get any because they didn’t meet the reserved price.

“If you’re patient and willing to put in the time, you might be able to get a couple of deals,” he says. “But some people get frustrated with it. With strictly farm equipment auction sites, the date is set for the auction and everything goes.”

Online auctions have been gaining momentum, but they’re not the first place people turn to when looking to sell equipment. “Not too long ago, there was nothing like Proxibid or live Internet bidding. Now it’s known and accepted,” Peterson says. “Actual online machinery auctions are in a similar process, but they’re just in their infancy.”

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