The National Association of Agricultural Contractors has published its list of contractor charges for 2010/11.


The prices are produced on an annual basis and are intended to be a guide only.

They are the middle price found by surveying NAAC members, but the association points out that the actual price can vary depending on variables such as soil conditions and region.

NAAC chief executive Jill Hewitt gives some background about the survey and her interpretation on the subject below:



NAAC chief executive Jill Hewitt writes: “As input prices have soared and the cost of fuel has doubled over the past five years, with machinery prices also climbing steeply, I look back at our annual contracting prices over the same timescale and see our customers continue to get a good deal.

While most prices have held from last year, many are equally not keeping pace with the relevant input costs. In theory, as fuel has doubled over the last five years, our prices should have followed a similar trend. Needless to say, we are still way off target.

slurry-injecting-kit

See the full list of NAAC contractor  charges for 2010/11

Tough competition keeps prices at a level not always economical (never mind profitable) and it is a brave man that stands tall, works out the right price and then stands by it despite local undercutting. While this may be good news for the customer short-term, in the longer term it makes little sense.

Those who cut financial corners inevitably struggle with machinery maintenance, never mind upgrading machines to keep pace with the latest technology. As things get tight, health and safety is also likely to be put to one side to get the job done. All are serious concerns to the farmer needing to get his land cultivated professionally, while not taking risks with liability.

However, probably the vital question to ask if you think you are getting an “amazing” deal is insurance. A good contractor is likely to have to spend many thousands on insurance to protect his own business and his customers. A contractor in it for the short-term may offer no protection if things go wrong.

Scaremongering I hear you cry – after all what is wrong with a little healthy competition?

Nothing of course, provided those offering the cheap deals (who are unlikely to survive more than a year or two) do not jeopardise those professionals meeting industry and legal standards. That benefits neither the contractor nor the customer.

While I will always spring to the defence of this remarkable sector of our industry, with an amazing front-running group of professionals working bravely and fearlessly to carefully calculated costings, I ask you to spare a thought for your local contractor. He most likely knows what he should be charging, yet is squeezed to within an inch of his profit margin to meet legal standards and protect your business, while making sure you get the professional service your crop deserves.

forage-harvesting

See the full list of NAAC contractor  charges for 2010/11

When he quotes you a price please try, just for a moment, to reflect on the benefits of employing a professional. Think hard about your crop, your profit margins and the vital importance of getting this job done well. Then reflect on how the chap down the road can offer to do it pounds cheaper per acre. How is it possible? A miracle?

Sadly miracles are few are far between in farming and it is more likely cutting corners, which may cost you dearly in the long run.”