As the industry moves rapidly towards a post-Brexit world, it will become increasingly important that contractors and farmers work in partnership.
Teamwork will be necessary to ensure that duplication is avoided, and that efficient streamlining takes place as the single farm payment starts to taper. Farms will need to take a brutal look at their level of mechanisation and perhaps look towards specialist contractors to take on an increasing level of responsibility. It will be vital that all parties look hard at costs and work together.
Innovation and professionalism will be key for contractors, working with customers to increase productivity, efficiency and ultimately the bottom line. At the same time, soil and water management, biodiversity, air quality and the environment will be high on everyone’s agendas, with contractors needing to take a proactive role in steering and assisting farmers through new environmental schemes.
Tight budgets will impact on everyone, but contractors must not take on the role of bank-rolling their customers. Cash flow will remain vital to every contractor’s business and regular, timely payments will be needed from customers to keep their businesses viable. Huge capital investment will be a standard part of many contractors’ fleet management which, combined with unpredictable weather, can cause many broken nights of sleep in this sector.
While the vast majority of farmers increasingly lean on contractors for their specialist knowledge, labour resource and machinery, this partnership approach will be critical to a vibrant and productive agricultural industry moving forward.