Serving the Farming Industry across East Anglia for 35 Years
Prices charged by agricultural contractors are largely similar to last year – despite higher input costs and buoyant commodity markets. Contractors struggle to increase fieldwork prices

Prices charged by agricultural contractors are largely similar to last year – despite higher input costs and buoyant commodity markets.

Spiralling farm input costs over the last year continuing to pile pressure on farm incomes. But many agricultural contractors say they have difficulty increasing their prices for key operations due to local competition.

Some machinery prices have gone up 8% in the past year, according to the National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC). It has published its figures to help contractors and farmers calculate individual costings for 2021/22 (see table).

NAAC chairman Matt Redman said contractors had struggled to increase their prices to reflect higher costs. And he cautioned: “If farmers are demanding a reliable, efficient, safe and innovative service they must expect to pay a sustainable rate.”

Hefty investment 

Meanwhile, expectations on contractors continue to escalate. Environmental awareness, specialist training, record keeping and the latest technology all require higher levels of expertise and investment in equipment.

Farmers were increasingly reliant on contractors, said Mr Redman. It was vital that everyone worked in partnership to ensure businesses remained viable over the long term – with individual operations costed carefully and accurately.

“Our industry has the potential to really drive forward agricultural productivity, in an environmentally-sound format,” said Mr Redman. This included producing food while helping to meet net zero targets.

Mr Redman said: “We are investing heavily in new technology – but we must be vigilant and ensure we can afford the costs of running a business, while remaining at the forefront of innovation.’

Useful benchmark

The survey is a useful benchmark to the industry but rates will vary significantly with region, soil type, customer size and machinery. Customers should therefore expect to see higher or lower prices quoted.

The NAAC says many farmers struggling to operate without them. Contractors are land managers, advisors and protectors of the countryside. They provide skilled labour, high capital cost machinery and professional services.

With it becoming increasingly expensive for farmers to run all machinery in-house, some 91% of growers and livestock producers use a contractor for at least some of their fieldwork, according to NAAC figures.

While cost is important, farmers should also consider the quality, reputation and reliability of their contractor to get a job done well, said Mr Redman. Machinery prices had increased by 40% in the past decade and contractors needed to reflect this.

The full guide can be found online at 

www.naac.co.uk.