Land based industries

The Northland Dashboard

(Data source: Infometrics Regional Database)

The land based sector of the economy involves changing natural resources into primary products and its contribution is measured at the farm-gate level, i.e. it does not include the output and employment of processing industries such as dairy factories, meat processing plants, timber mills, cement manufacturing facilities, etc (these being included in the ‘Manufacturing & processing’). Most products from this sector are considered raw materials for other industries.

In the last five years, the land based sector has contributed a healthy 15% to the Northland economy, and employs almost 12% of its workforce. 

The sector has not grown as fast in Northland as it has nationally, increasing by just 3% during the ten year period 2002-2011.  Annual growth rates have fluctuated between -11% and 4%. 

Dairying and forestry contribute 9% of the region’s GDP as a whole, and are the only two sectors whose economic activity has grown over the five year period 2007-11. They are the biggest industries in terms of value within Northland’s land based industries sector, accounting for 60% of the sector’s GDP.

In contrast, sheep/beef and other livestock farming has shown a marked economic decline over the past ten years.

About ~489,840 hectares of land are in pasture and Northland’s subtropical climate provides a competitive advantage not readily enjoyed by other regions – the ability to grow stock on during the warmer winter and spring months.

Northland has a well-established forestry sector, with predominantly Radiata pine plantation forests spread throughout the region; the regions log supply enviably respected for its superior strength and stiffness characteristics. 

Dairying and sheep/beef farming provide the most jobs, with horticulture also making a significant contribution to employment. 

Despite this, ~2,200 fewer people work in the land based sector in 2011 than in 2001, a drop of 24%.  In dairy farming for example, job numbers have decreased as farms have amalgamated and adopted sophisticated computer-based technology.  However, while the number of jobs has fallen, the value of the jobs has lifted due to a rise in the skill levels required.  It is now not uncommon for a Northland dairy herd manager to earn a package equivalent to $80,000 per annum, while a forestry worker is more likely to be earning the minimum wage.

GDP growth of the sector in Northland mirrors the country as a whole; differences relate to climatic variations in the region, for example flooding in 2007 and drought in 2012.