Rising prices trouble farming contractors

Rising machinery prices are rivalling bad weather and breakdowns as the main worries keeping agri-contractors awake at night, according to research published yesterday.

Over a third of respondents1 (36.3 per cent) to a survey conducted for rural insurer, NFU Mutual, said the fear of the perennial problems of breakdowns and bad weather disrupting work kept them awake at night the most.

But, with contracting margins and prices for new and used farm machinery rising fast, contractors put the escalating cost of machinery as their next biggest worry (28.6 per cent).

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Difficulty employing trained workers was rated as the third most serious concern (21.4 per cent).

“Despite modern technology, the weather still has the power to disrupt harvesting and other farming activities – and contractors face huge challenges getting all their clients’ work done when Britain’s unpredictable weather makes field work impossible. Machinery breakdowns are always a risk even in the best maintained machinery fleets,” said Charlie Yorke, agriculture and technology specialist at the Mutual,

"However, the cost and availability of machinery is a growing challenge for the industry. With demand high, and availability low, we recommend that contractors establish accurate values for their machinery and make sure they are fully covered should the worst happen.

And he added that with the current labour problems it was no surprise that employing skilled workers and drivers in the current climate was becoming a challenge in many parts of the country.

But while changes to farm policy could offer further challenges they could also offer opportunities as farmers streamlined their businesses and relied more on specialist contractors.

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