Food & Farming

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Cheshire is a predominantly rural county and is dependent on its rural economy, environment and heritage. 83% of the total county area is identified as being rural and 70% of land in Cheshire remains in agricultural use. Almost 25% of Cheshire’s population live in rural areas and 11% of Cheshire’s workforce are employed in agriculture (including tourism and the food trade).

Farm size and type has varied significantly in the last ten years. The total number of farms has actually increased in recent years whilst the total area has decreased by around 10,000 hectares in the last ten years. The number of small (<5 hectares) and large (100< hectares) farms have increased whilst the number of medium sized farms decreased. In 2002 the most dominant farm type was mixed and other followed by cattle and sheep and then dairy. One third of Cheshire’s agricultural land is classified as Grade 3 (good to moderate) by DEFRA, so explains why dairying has historically predominated.

Across Cheshire a range of schemes are linking local food producers directly with consumers. These provide a number of environmental, social and economic benefits which include fresh, healthy local produce at a fair price, secure local markets for local producers, increasing employment through local food enterprises and reducing the number of ‘food miles’ travelled.