Published on: 10:09AM Feb 02, 2013

Dairy v.s. Beef?

How our local John Deere Dealer see’s it!

   Trying to make a living as a farmer is challenging enough with all the weather challenges, obscene fuel price surges, cost of seed, equipment and service from your local John Deere Dealer!  That’s right, even our local JD dealership is making farming harder for us.  "US’ being any farmer in Bradford or Tioga County Pennsylvania whom doesn’t milk cows.  First of all let me say that I in no way have any ill feelings toward dairy farmers.  They work hard for what little they make.  This week’s blog also doesn’t have anything to do with being or not being grass-fed.  I also apologize in advance for any RED tractor owners.  Let me explain.

   We recently purchased a John Deere 4020 from someone we have done business with many times over the years.  The tractor was built in 1968, and obviously was going to need some fixing up to be completely reliable for daily use on our BEEF farm.  So we called our Local JD dealership in Mansfield, PA thinking they would take care of us and our tractor since that is the only brand they sell and service.  Surprisingly they picked up our tractor within 3 day’s of calling them and the service Manager stated that they would get it in right away and we should have it back to us in 5-7 day’s.  That was 4 weeks ago on Jan. 4th!

  Our tractor needed a new clutch, this is a big job for a small farm operation such as ours where it’s just my wife & I.  The tractor needs to be split in half to access/replace the clutch.  Figuring the dealership had multiple mechanics and the equipment to do the job safely and correctly in a timely fashion is the reason we called them.  It is our only tractor with a loader that we need on a daily basis to feed round bales to our BEEF cattle.

   I’ve been in touch with the service Manager several times a week and have even stopped in periodically to check on the progress of our tractor, especially when the "end of the week" completion date went from one week to two weeks and than three weeks and we are now entering the fourth week of a 3-5 day job.  Since the end of week one, we have been getting the run-around and told that they are soooo busy and are working on it when they can.  It wasn’t until my last visit on Monday the 28th, that the Service Manager told me point blank that "Dairy Farmers come first here, that’s always been our policy.  We’ll try and have it done by Wednesday or Thursday of this week."    Seriously!?  I couldn’t believe what he just told me.  And he said it with a smile on his face!  I was stunned, than internally enraged as I silently walked back to my truck still stunned.

   What would you have said?  How would you have reacted?  Why is this acceptable?  Is it acceptable?  Is it common practice at your local dealership?  I hope this is an isolated incident.  So when I got back to the farm, I told my wife what had transpired.  She called their corporate office and told them what the Service Manger had stated, the woman at their corporate office stated "That is NOT our policy!".  I expected to receive a phone call that afternoon from their Mansfield location where our tractor was, but our phone didn’t ring.

   The following day, my wife called to follow-up with the Service Manager, and he was obviously not happy to hear from us again.  He now stated that "We’re working on it!  It might be done by next Wednesday or Thursday."  We had previously stated that we would be out of small square bales to feed our cattle by Thursday of this past week, and surprise!, we were.  Not once did they offer to help us out with a loaner tractor (they have multiple of on their used sales lot), that would have helped us with feeding our round bales to our cattle.  And when we asked about one the Assistant location manager told my wife they didn’t have any.  Another lie.  He was nice enough to tell us where to go to buy a 3 point hitch bale spear for the back of our other tractor.  Only problem is that the rear attachment only lifts the bales 2’ off the ground.  About 3’ shy of being able to get the bales into our head gate feeders.  So now we have to hand/fork feed our cattle 3 times a day, in addition to spending another $300 on a piece of equipment we will hopefully only need to use for another week or so.  Than again, that’s only if we’re fortunate enough to get our loader tractor back before spring!  Once again, thank you for letting me vent my frustrations.  I assure you we will get back to our regularly scheduled topics of 100% grass-fed livestock next week.