Farming Delivers for the South East
More than 80% of this region is rural, one third of its countryside is protected for its landscape quality and 10% of UK farms are found in the South East.
South East farmers and growers can deliver almost any food product, thanks to the region’s mild, maritime climate. These include foods you’d come to expect such as malting barley for beer, beef from the Surrey Hills or milk for your breakfast table and a wide range of speciality cheeses. But the more unusual products include glasshouse tomatoes, sweet peppers and aubergines from the coastal plains, garlic from the Isle of Wight and even champagne-style sparkling wines, from grapes grown on the chalky slopes of the South Downs.
Agriculture and horticulture employ 50,000 people in the region. The main farming types here are arable farming (the growing of cereals, oilseeds and other crops that can be gathered by a combine harvester) and horticulture. Horticulture is the growing of vegetables, fruit, flowers, salad crops and ornamental garden plants. Here in the South East the horticultural supply chain is estimated to be worth £11.075bn and 15% of the region’s workforce is employed within it.
The region is a hub for the food processing sector and the speciality local food and drink sector here is worth around £550m per year. Farming is also the backbone of a thriving rural tourism sector worth £1bn per year and providing 40,000 jobs.