12 May 1995

South:Graeme Elliott.

Against. In this area the system doesnt really work – there are too many suppliers and not enough demanders. The ring ends up reducing rates, hence encouraging lower standards of work.

There will always be a future for the professional contractor. Because of his economies of scale, he will nearly always be able to do the job for a lower cost than the farmers overhead.

Yes. We dont need the all the gadgetry, which only makes the tractors unserviceable by farm staff. That means another opportunity to save on costs is taken away from us.

It is essential. Although a business needs some owned assets to trade, without finance we wouldnt be able to run the £100,000+ machines such as self-propelled foragers.

Yes The government should be doing more to encourage development. A successful bio-fuel industry would improve public perception of farmers overnight.

Mixed feelings. The introduction of set-aside, which made farmers look more closely at their overheads, has actually increased my business.

Cost divided by expected hours worked, plus a profit margin – then I look at the competitors rates. If I am way out, I eitheradjust costs or consider whether the job is worth doing.

It has improved significantly from what was a very low level – a stetson, a pair of spurs and an blue flashing light. Today we can do most jobs quicker and better than the farmer himself.

The weather. I can make more in a dry year. But the bank manager doesnt understand…