The soil is in general rich and productive, yielding fair crops of wheat, and excellent crops of barley, oats, etc.; and the grass and green crops are equally abundant. Oats is the predominant crop, but the demands of distillers keep up the acreage of barley. The cattle and stock hold a high character and form the staple agricultural industry. There is also a considerable amount of dairy farming. Among landlords who did much to encourage agricultural enterprise and to plant and reclaim lands, were the earls of Fife and the earls of Findlater, afterwards earls of Seafield. It was a Seafield who, in 1846, received the honorary gold medal of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, for his immense and thriving plantations of useful timber-trees, in the counties of Banff, Moray and Nairn. From the year 1811 to 1845, he had planted 18,938,224 Scots firs, 11,904,798 larches, 843,450 hardwoods; making the enormous aggregate of 31,686,472 forest trees, planted in 8223 acres of enclosed ground.
The Banffshire Agricultural Association holds shows periodically for all sorts of stock and produce and agricultural implements.
Woollen factories are found in Dufftown, Rothiemay and Gollachy, and engineering works in Banff, Portsoy and Keith. Distilleries are numerous and their product has a high repute. A fishing and miscellaneous trade is done at the harbours of Banff, Macduff, Buckie, Gardenstown, Portsoy, Cullen and Port Gordon; but fishing is also carried on at numerous creeks or harbours along the coast. The herring season lasts from June to September, white fishing all the year round. The fishery districts centre in Banff and Buckie. Banffshire contains large limestone deposits, and granite is also quarried.
The systems of the Great North of Scotland and the Highland railways serve the chief towns of the county and provide communication in one direction with Aberdeen, and in another with Elgin, Nairn and Inverness.
The population of Banffshire in 1891 was 61,684, and in 1901 61,488, or 97 to the square mile. In 1901 there were 499 persons speaking Gaelic and English. The chief towns are Banff (pop. in 1901, 7161), Buckie (6549), and Keith (4753), with Cullen (1936), Portsoy (1878) and Dufftown (1823). The county returns one member to parliament; the royal burghs, Banff and Cullen, belonging to the Elgin group of parliamentary burghs. Banffshire, with Aberdeen and Kincardine shires, forms a sheriffdom, and there is a resident sheriff-substitute at Banff, who sits also at Keith, Buckie and Dufftown. Most of the schools are under school-board jurisdiction. Several of them earn grants for higher education, and the county council, out of the "residue grant," subsidizes classes in agriculture, navigation, veterinary science and cookery and laundry work. The teachers of the county, with those of the shires of Aberdeen and Elgin, benefit by the bequest of James Dick (1743-1828), a West India merchant, who left over £110,000 to promote the higher learning of the schoolmasters of these shires.
The annual income of £4000 is distributed among the dominies who have qualified by examination to become beneficiaries.