Over a third of respondents (36.3%) to a survey conducted by the leading rural insurer said the fear of breakdowns and bad weather disrupting work kept them awake at night the most.
With contracting margins tight and prices for new and used farm machinery rising fast, contractors put the escalating cost of machinery as their next biggest worry (28.6%).
Difficulty employing trained workers was rated as the third most serious concern (21.4%).
Charlie Yorke, Agriculture and Technology Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Unsurprisingly weather and breakdowns continue to be the biggest challenge.
“However, the cost and availability of machinery is a growing challenge for the industry.
“With demand high, and availability low, we recommend that contractors establish accurate values for their machinery and make sure they are fully covered should the worst happen.
“Despite modern technology, the weather still has the power to disrupt harvesting and other farming activities – and contractors face huge challenges getting all their clients’ work done when Britain’s unpredictable weather makes field work impossible. Machinery breakdowns are always a risk even in the best maintained machinery fleets.
“We know that employing skilled workers and drivers in the current climate is becoming a challenge in many parts of the country, so it’s no surprise that this concern is also keeping contractors awake at night.
“The impact of the changes to UK farm support came in at number four in our survey.
“While changes in subsidies are a challenge, contracting will play an increasingly important part in the future of agriculture as farmers streamline their businesses and bring in outside skills for a range of farming tasks.”
A separate NFU Mutual survey of the factors farmers rate highest when selecting contractors revealed trust and relationships were top of the list.
Charlie Yorke added: “It’s important contractors put effort into developing good working relationships and ensure they have appropriate insurance for the work they’re doing so their clients have full trust and confidence.”
NFU Mutual’s contractor insurance is available through the insurer’s 300-strong network of local offices – and more information is available online from www.nfumutual.co.uk/agri-contractor.
The insurer also offers specialist risk management though NFU Mutual Risk Management Services Limited and plant inspection services with its partner Vulcan Inspection Services.