Contractors of Ireland
Ireland) o ce has received calls from all over the country
criticising the recent online publication of a price list for
agricultural contracting services. Over the years, journalists
have compiled price lists for the farming papers but these
have never been well received by professional agricultural
contractors, and it seems this one is no di erent. One
contractor from Tipperary said to me many years ago, "if you
want to go bust, use the prices printed in the papers."
After 30 years fi ghting the corner for agricultural contractors,
my take is that price lists can be divisive. We cannot blame
farmers for using the lowest price in the range as a bargaining
tool to negotiate down. It is hard enough for agricultural
contractors to get a viable price for their services; by and
large, prices have not increased signifi cantly for many years,
particularly among some contractors who also farm, where
the real cost of providing contracting services can become
distorted. Comparison of contractor charges over the past
10 years, against increased costs of machinery, fuel, labour
and other overheads over the same time period, reveals tight
profi t margins often bordering on zero.
PAC Ireland took the decision many years ago not to publish
price lists and not to have any discussion on prices at our
meetings. The view was held that so many factors come into
play when a contractor agrees a price with his farmers that to
publish a range of prices would be a serious disadvantage to
the majority of professional contractors.
I fi nd that published price lists encourage the black economy
to undercut the legitimate contractor's pricing structure.
The temptation for some farmers to take the lowest quote
can mean using contractors that are not in the tax net or
properly insured and often don't meet their machinery
repayments. That said, we know that as many as 90 per cent
of farmers return to the same contractor every year and that
their decisions are not based solely on price charged but
on reliability, a professional service and the expectation of a
continued service into the future.