James Heappey Weekly Column

This week is the Bath and West Show which is hugely popular with many local residents but, more importantly, is a great celebration of our local agriculture and our rural economy. 

Watching the prize cattle parading in the showring is not dissimilar to the leadership contest that is now underway within our party. But with the field expanding all the time and with candidates yet to fully set out their policy positions, I'll leave it for another week or so before setting out my view on that in this column. 

Instead, it would be remiss not to celebrate the amazing contribution that our local farmers and food producers make to Somerset's economy. So much of our landscape is a consequence of their careful attention and investment and as we grapple with the urgent requirements to decarbonise we must make sure that we do not cause irreversible harm to our agricultural industry. Indeed, there are things that agriculture can do that will be essential in a net-zero economy and helping our farmers to see the opportunity of sequestration and bio-gases - both of which will be important parts of our future heating and transport systems - should be an urgent priority for those of us who represent areas such as this.

Agriculture and decarbonising are too often presented as mutually exclusive. They are absolutely not. Our farmers can play a leading role in the 21st century rural economy, just as much as they have in the past. My job is to be a voice for farming in Westminster making sure that the Government understands the huge benefits of working with our farmers to tackle the climate emergency.