Press releases and other news

The NAAC is regularly featured in the agricultural press and here are our latest news stories and articles.

New Farmer-Contractor Safety Checklist

23 May 2022

The NAAC and NFU have produced a checklist to make it easier for farmers and professional contractors to work together, ensuring that work is carried out safely and efficiently. Farmers can use this checklist when putting in place and communicating the responsibilities and actions of each job to the contractor.

It is vital that contractors and farmers have a close relationship, not only to make the partnership a financial and productive success, but also to keep everyone safe; the new checklist offers a useful tool to support this.

Commenting, Jill Hewitt, NAAC Chief Executive said, “Contractors are now relied upon by many farms to provide a skilled labour force and high-tech machinery. It is essential that everyone works together to exchange local information to make the job run smoothly, avoid public nuisance and   keep staff, families and the public safe.”

As part of the Farm Safety Partnership, the NAAC and NFU are working with other industry organisations to improve the safety record in farming.

It is difficult to separate business requirements, environmental concerns and safety as all tend to be interlinked, and the new checklist aims to draw together the vital elements of a successful and safe contractor-farmer relationship.

NFU Vice President David Exwood said: “Farmers and agricultural contractors work closely together on a day-to-day basis, and this new checklist is a great tool to ensure that the whole industry is working together to help everyone remain safe.

“This checklist is about improving the working relationship between farmers and contractors by making small changes to reduce the risk of accidents, while also improving efficiency and productivity.”

The Partnership Checklist can be found here.

Contracting Prices Increase

17 May 2022

The National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) has released its latest survey of contracting prices and is advising farmers and customers to expect price rises. The new prices survey for 2022-23 can be found here.

With fuel prices at record highs and the costs of labour and machinery escalating, contracting prices are rising. The current survey was carried out based on a pound per litre for fuel, and contractors are being advised to calculate their fees carefully to ensure they are covering costs and can make a margin. This survey is only an average figure and farmers should expect their contractors’ prices to vary, plus be prepared that a fuel surcharge may be necessary if prices continue to fluctuate.

Commenting Jill Hewitt, NAAC Chief Executive said, ‘These are difficult times for everyone, and it is vital that contractors work closely with their customers to ensure all businesses can remain viable and productive. Profit must not be a dirty word if contractors are to keep pace with new technology, training and investment in their businesses, to supply the professionalism, machines and skills that are increasingly being demanded to meet farmers’ sustainability and environmental targets.’

The NAAC has recently launched a new on-line pricing tool for its membership, with Andersons Consulting, to allow contractors to evaluate each operation, considering all costs, so that they can see the cold, hard facts for each job.  The tool takes account of numerous variables such as depreciation, repair costs of individual machines, yard costs, insurance and office staff, before breaking each job down, taking into account fuel costs, area of work, work rate, labour, downtime and profit. This will allow quotes to be made, backed up by statistics, to get to a price that is realistic.

Inevitably farmers will get what they pay for in their contractor going forward and if an efficient, professional service, with well-maintained reliable machinery is needed, then a partnership approach will be vital.  

NEW Chairman to lead on safety

7 March 2022

James Bannister was elected as new NAAC Chairman at the AGM on 4th March 2022. Taking over from previous Chair Matt Redman, James runs an agricultural contracting business in the Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire borders spreading manures and lime, alongside crop spraying.

However, it was in 1998 that James’s life was drastically changed when he lost his left arm in a farm accident, having become entangled in a potato harvester. It has taken over twenty years to successfully rebuild his life and business, JLR Farm Services, and James is now in a position to want to help others stay safe on farms.

“If just one person changes the way they operate, based on my experience, that will be one life potentially saved”, commented James. “In my new role as NAAC Chairman, I want to drive the Association forward, whilst putting particular focus on trying to improve our dreadful industry safety record.”

Farming is currently facing challenging times, with rocketing input prices and a declining farm subsidies, but the NAAC is working hard to ensure that contractors can future-proof their businesses, supporting farmers in building sustainable and productive operations, whilst protecting the environment and animal welfare.

“As finances tighten and skilled, trained labour is harder to source,” said James, “it becomes more tempting to cut corners and push boundaries. However, it is critical to focus on safety management to ensure that all our contracting workforce is kept safe and is supported. I am passionate about farm safety and am honoured to be Chairman and have the unique opportunity to try and make a real difference to our industry.”

Bigger Seed Bring Better Results

16 June 2021

A new independent trial carried out by the National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) has proven that larger seed sizes of typical UK varieties of winter wheat and spring barley resulted in higher emergence rates, increased initial vigour, longer initial root and shoot lengths, higher root and shoot mass, greater initial tillering and greater initial leaf number.

Carried out by SGS in greenhouse conditions in early 2021, the results highlighted that seed size is a vital factor in potential yield, whether using farm saved or certified seed.

Commenting, Rob White, NAAC Seed Chairman said, ‘Farmers are increasingly questioning the need to have farm saved seed treated and cleaned. However, these results clearly highlight the importance of only filling the drill with viable seed. Larger seed sizes were proven to have higher germination, higher vigour and improved emergence compared to small seed sizes of the same lot.’

Based on the results in this trial, it’s expected that a crop drilled with smaller seed, or an uncleaned seed batch would result in a lower yield and perhaps lower quality of harvested grain than a crop drilled from a larger or cleaned seed batch. Small seeds in the drill are then effectively taking up space that could be occupied by a larger, more productive product.

Rob continued, ‘It is vital that farmers look hard at their farm-saving economics. Whilst costs can be cut by barn dipping, this may be a very short-sighted gain. Our results clearly show that seed that is cleaned and of larger size selection will put the crop at a competitive advantage by having initial growth gains. These bigger leafed and high tillering plants will also compete more vigorously with nuisance weeds like black grass. In field conditions, this is also likely to make smaller seeds, with a lower emergence rate and growing more slowly, more susceptible to pressure from pests and diseases which could further reduce crop vigour.’

Farmers should consider using a professional mobile seed contractor if intending to farm save, not only to select out larger more productive seeds, but also to remove weed seeds, stones and rubbish to maximise yield potential. Agronomic progress is moving on at a pace and growers must start with the basics of selecting the best possible seed sample to drill.

Locate an NAAC mobile seed processor at Find a Contractor.

Agricultural contractors have access to grant funding in 2021

2 December 2020

The NAAC is delighted that Defra will offer new Farming Investment Fund grants to agricultural contractors in 2021 and beyond. As part of the historic new Agriculture Act 2020, which will change the face of farming for the next generation, this is a momentous decision that will impact on contractors now and in the future.

Commenting Jill Hewitt, NAAC Chief Executive said, ‘Contractors have historically been overlooked in Government policy and the NAAC has worked hard to make certain that we are finally acknowledged and can access vital funding to help drive forward the industry. This will help contractors invest, bringing forward new technology and environmentally beneficial machinery to market, allowing landowners to minimise capital investment whilst sharing contractor’s kit. It also sets an important precedent, recognising the importance of professional contractors in modern farming.’

Contractors have been specifically excluded from farming grants in the past, and the NAAC has been lobbying for years for official recognition of this sector as a vital and integral part of UK agriculture. 

Over 91% of farmers use a contractor and are increasingly reliant on the external input of specialist machinery, skills and labour. It is no longer necessary, or financially viable, to run all machinery in-house and contractors can bring new ideas and technology, fast-tracking access for farmers and driving productivity forward.

‘Professional contractors can offer solutions to many of the current environmental and productivity dilemmas’, said Jill Hewitt. ‘They can invest in high-tech equipment (eg low emission slurry spreaders) and it is right that they should have access to grant funding to spread the investment and expertise over a greater number of farms’.

When it comes to ‘public money for public goods’, the NAAC believes that contractors will offer a significant and sound investment.

The new Farming Investment Fund grants are expected to support innovation and productivity. This will open for applications next year and will be used to offer grants for equipment, technology and infrastructure for the future. It will be a competitive scheme split into two funds, for lower-value and higher-value investments, with grants available for a proportion of the total cost of investment

The fund will provide targeted support to businesses so that they can invest in equipment, technology, and infrastructure that will improve their productivity and deliver environmental and other public benefits.

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