Silage contractors face labour shortages as drivers head back to construction sector
Labour shortages and rising fuel costs are becoming big challenges as the silage season progresses
Farm contractors are facing significant challenges on labour availability and costs as the silage season progresses.
"This is just one of a number of major issues that are impacting on the long term viability of silage making activities for many members of the Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) members," said FCI national chair Richard White.
"Skilled machinery operators are being drawn back into the construction sector and that is once again a huge challenge for us agricultural contractors who can only offer seasonal driving opportunities," he said. "Labour availability is just one a series of major problems impacting on contractor cash flow and longer term viability.
"Farmers are rarely aware of the real costs of running a modern contracting business, where the emphasis is on delivering an efficient service. The running costs for a farm contractor business don't only involve labour costs, but all of the costs have increased making managing cash flow a real challenge for many contractors," he said.
"If we don't invest in reliable machinery we cannot provide a quality service, at a fair price and with sensible payment plans, which is what we all, as contractors, aspire to," said Mr White, as the FCI estimates contractors are owed €12m for work done before the start of the silage season.
"A set of quality tyres for a 150hp tractor costs upwards of €8,000 and that's only one part of our investment as contractors in ensuring that we give a quality service to all our farming customers," he said.
"Diesel cost increases are running at more than 12pc year-on-year and these additional costs are also impacting on contractor profitability in 2017," said Mr White.
"Many contractors now have access to machine telematics systems to identify their true costs.