Farming delivers for the North East
Covering some 2.5 million acres stretching from Sheffield to the Scottish Borders, North East England is one of the most diverse regions both in terms of landscape and food production.
Nearly 70 per cent is farmland, so farming is hugely important to the local economy – employing more than 40,000 people and generating an output worth nearly £2.4 billion in 2010.
Recognised as a major livestock area, the region is home to more sheep and pigs than anywhere else in England with 3.8m sheep and 1.3m pigs. The 800,000-strong cattle herd is the third largest in England and there are also a number of sizeable poultry producers.
Meat may be a speciality, but on the fertile lowlands North East farmers also produce a wealth of fruit, vegetables and salads, superb dairy products such as our famous Wensleydale Cheese and a substantial cereals harvest.
Providing excellent growing conditions for everything from wheat and oilseed rape to willow and even elephant grass or ‘miscanthus’, the region is also at the forefront of the drive to develop renewable energy and fuels.
Finally local farmers are the custodians of some of Britain’s most celebrated landscapes. Four national parks, four areas of outstanding natural beauty and 126 miles of heritage coast together attract millions of visitors every year. Management of this means, at the very least, maintaining 15,000 miles of hedgerows and 4,500 miles of dry-stone walls – that’s 500 miles longer than the Great Wall of China.