Farming is Somerset’s second biggest business – but Somerset farmers have to try very much harder.
The soil may be rich, but the landscape refuses to make it easy and the weather can add additional hazards. There are frequently-flooded wetlands down on the Levels and bleak hillsides up on the moors. Dairy farming has been in the doldrums. Sheep farming is much less than lucrative. Farm incomes are at an all-time low. Subsidies are always under threat – the uncertainties of Brexit remain.
Many who work on the land believe that central government often has a tendency to ignore their plight. I do not agree. At Westminster I maintain the closest possible links with Farming Ministers and I have created a Farm Forum within the constituency to ensure that local expertise is regularly heard and then properly used. The industry is vital to the prosperity of the area.
I have always been on the side of our farmers. I once ran a farm myself. I know the challenges and I can often help.
The following links may be useful:
(the above two companies are the biggest food producers in the constituency)
- https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-environment-food-rural-affairs DEFRA
- https://www.nfuonline.com/about-us/our-offices/south-west/ NFU in the South West
- http://www.countryside-alliance.org/ The Countryside Alliance
- http://www.cla.org.uk The Country Land and Business Association
- http://www.leafuk.org/leaf/ Linking Environment and Farming
- http://www.rpa.gov.uk/rpa/index.nsf/home Rural Payments Agency