91 per cent of farmers now use at least one contractor

Towards the end of December, the National Association of Agricultural Contractors’ (NAAC) held their annual conference, which shed light on how the agricultural sector is growing increasingly reliant on contractors’ work.

Those attending the conference heard that approximately 91 per cent of farmers now use contractors and freelancers – a figure which is expected to increase once the UK has left the European Union (EU).

The general consensus was that, with uncertainty ahead, many farming and agricultural businesses are looking towards specialist freelancers as opposed to recruiting permanent new talent or investing in expensive machinery.

Meurig Raymond, of the National Farmers Union (NFU), suggested that the price of agricultural machinery had risen significantly in recent years, and that working with specialist contractors who use the latest technology and machines often proved to be a more sensible option for cash-conscious farmers.

Speakers from the contracting community indicated that driving innovation in technology was key to maintaining this relationship into the New Year – improving work opportunities for contractors while simultaneously increasing productivity for agricultural business owners.

“It will be important, if contractors get access to new land, to hit the ground running and get productivity up straight away,” he said.

But Duncan Sinclair, Agricultural Manager at Waitrose, added that many firms would still be keen to recruit contractors for help regardless of their technological standing.

“Farmers cannot be experts at everything, and may look to contractors to help solve labour concerns,” he said.

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