The National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) has launched a new manifesto to ensure that the importance of contractors is recognised in agricultural policy across the UK.

Over 90% of farmers use a contractor and one of three key asks identified by the NAAC is that decision makers must consider the role of contractors. This cannot be underestimated, stresses the trade association in a press release, and it is essential that our farmers ‘without’ land are recognised alongside their fellow farmers ‘with’ land in policy and funding opportunities.

The second identified ask is that contractors and farmers should be allowed/trusted to use their skill and professionalism to judge when inputs can be applied. This should not be managed by calendar dates set in government legislation and guidance, which take no account of changing climate. The third ask is that contractors must remain at the forefront of government funding and policy to bring forward new technology in agriculture.

“In the run up to an election it is important to reflect on the vital input of our sector – as contractors may be ‘farmers without land’ but they are leading a new era of professional land managers and need to be recognised in all relevant policy development,” comments Jill Hewitt, NAAC chief executive. “This is especially important as our sector, like farmers, continue to suffer due to the wet winter and spring.”

The manifesto considers a number of additional issues impacting on the industry. Requests include government support to cultivate the next generation of farm staff, whether working for contractors or farmers, and investment in training needs to extend to contractors to provide the next generation of technical operators on UK farms.

Other requests are to retain a focus on food security and ensure that productive farmland can be used for sustainable farming, and the NAAC says it is critical to the future of our soils to provide pump-prime funding for land drainage and encourage farmers to make this a priority.

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