According to Defra’s annual Farm Business Survey there are around 900 agricultural holdings in North Kesteven (about 1 farm per 100 hectares). The food and farming sector is worth around £170M a year to the local economy, making it easily the district’s biggest industry, for example it’s value is approximately double that created in NK by the tourism sector. Direct agriculture employs 2000 people, nearly 5% of the workforce and double the national average. A further 3000 work in food processing at companies as diverse as Tulip (George Adams), Branston Potatoes, Moy Park, Dovecote Park, Fenmarc etc
Agriculture and horticulture accounts for around 90% of NK land use (80,000+ ha out of a total of 90,000). Over the last 20 years on average cereals have accounted for around 45% of the total farmed land in NK (depending on fluctuations in wheat prices etc) other arable crops (rape, linseed, beets, potatoes, peas and beans etc) around 21%, pasture and grazing 9%, dairy farming less than 1% and horticulture 3%. There is 2% woodland
Since 1970, the number of holdings has increased dramatically while the number of farm enterprises per holding has decreased. There has been phenomenal growth (69%) in the number of holdings of less than 5ha (12 acres) from 200 in 2000 to 339 in 2007, while the numbers of larger holdings of over 100ha has remained reasonably constant at around 220. There has also been a growth in owner occupancy, (around 25%) with tenants buying farms from larger estates.
There are 6.5 million poultry in NK, overwhelmingly chickens (around 3.2M broilers and 2.3M layers), 210,000 turkeys, 218,000 ducks and 7000 geese. NK has 7000 cattle, under 1000 of which are dairy cows. It has 20,000 sheep on 82 holdings and 3600 pigs on 25 holdings. These figures represent drastic declines over a 50 year period. There are 939 horses and 93 goats. If the average vets’ bill for an animal is £100 per annum, current livestock levels represent income of £4M for vets (not including chickens)!