Is €10/bale (including plastic) a fair rate for baling and wrapping?

Is €10/bale (including plastic) a fair rate for baling and wrapping? Image

The Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) is quoting a 'guide rate' of €10/bale plus VAT (including plastic/film) for round baling and wrapping (of silage) this season. That doesn't include mowing.

The rate includes four layers of plastic/film.

Baling and wrapping, where the farmer (rather than the contractor) supplies the plastic/film, is 'guiding' at €7/bale. Round baling (4X4) on its own is pegged at €5/bale.

These prices (which exclude VAT at 13.5%), and others relating to baling and bale handling, are detailed below – in this FCI-supplied table.

These FCI guide rates are now produced on an annual basis. They are compiled by collating an "average figure for each operation from a panel of FCI contractor members from across Ireland".

Because of local variations, the FCI says that "actual charges may vary considerably across regions, the distance travelled, the size of a particular job, as well as the type of equipment used".

Earlier this year, the association said that contractors were quoting a "5% increase in charges" – rounded off to meet the “increases in machinery and labour costs since the start of 2019".

At the time, Michael Moroney – the association's chief executive – explained: "The increased cost of new machinery is impacting on the sustainability of many contracting businesses."

He continued: "The arrival of the Revenue Commissioners’ new payroll system [from January 1, 2019] has been an added cost for agricultural contractors. Skilled operators must be paid weekly; tax returns must be issued weekly, all of which means additional cost.

"Driver availability also continues to be an issue. Moreover, the cost of farmer credit continues to rise for contractors."