One of the questions that we were asked in the run up to our Bath:Hacked Loves The Environment weekend was about whether we could discover the nature of employment in agriculture in Bath and North East Somerset.

We know we all like eating nice food, but how many people are actually involved in producing it?

It turns out that Defra run a regular survey to get to the bottom of this, that data is easily available and published down to a local authority level. The data itself comes in a somewhat peculiarly formatted MS Excel file, so needed a small amount of manual handling to get into a useful format.

Once the data had been flattened out a bit, it was put into Tableau in order to create a quick interactive visualisation.

This isn’t by any stretch of the imagination a complicated hack, but it does help us quickly answer a question. The total number of employees in agriculture has dropped, from 922 in 2007 to 883 in 2013, while the number of full time owners rose from 291 to 308 over the same time period. In 2013 there were 99,000 jobs in Bath and North East Somerset, meaning agriculture accounted for less than 1% of total employment.

Next steps

In conclusion, the small numbers involved make it very difficult to draw any meaningful conclusions from the data, other than to observe that agriculture is not a significant source of jobs in the local area. However, the drop in overall employment may be worth monitoring if sustaining agricultural employment was considered a local priority.

There are also some other sources of data that could help provide more detail on this issue, the IDBR would allow for a more granular analysis and could give more information on what kind of food is produced and how many people are employed within each business. It must be noted that this data is not available as open data and could only be requested by the local authority for specific purposes.