By Farmers Weekly staff

MACHINERY rings in Wales are expanding their range of activities to help farmers and farmer-contractors cope with the industrys crisis.

New Welsh Development Agency-funded computer equipment will let the regions three rings provide administrative services for contractors.

And a growing database now includes information on the availability of machinery for hire or sale, fodder and livestock, lambs for fostering, land for rent and even unused farm buildings.

Already the 1600 members have access to discounted electricity, telephone calls and fuel, and the Mid-Wales Ring is operating a direct labour service that offers 75% re-training grants to farmers looking for part-time work.

“We must make it clear that we are non-profit making facilitators and not traders,” Graham Perkins, manager of the West Wales Machinery Ring, told a farm consultants seminar at Builth Wells, Powys.

“We are here to link people who have machinery or services to offer with those who require them.”

Members should easily recoup the purchase of a 10 share to join and 50/year subscription, by reducing capital and input costs, and by earning off-farm income.

Gill Wood, manager of the Mid-Wales Machinery Ring, gave examples of how equipment costs might be reduced.

Where a farmer bought a 36,000 tractor on an 8% interest loan and used it for 500 hours a year for five years, the running costs would be 25/hour.

Using it for 500 extra hours through the ring cut the average running charge to 18/hour, and generated off-farm income.