Bees play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy environment. Their free pollinating services are indispensable to food production in the UK and to the diversity of our countryside - they are a big part of life here in Taunton Deane yet their population is declining.
The Government has recently launched a Bee Pollinator Stetegy which will provide extra payments to farmers in order for them to maintain suitable bee habitats, expand investment in scientific research, gather more information on these vital insects, and provide ways for everyone, from businesses to schools, to get involved in supporting bees.
The strategy is a voluntary scheme which farmers have to choose to opt into and has been largely welcomed by the industry. I have raised the bee issue with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Liz Truss over the past few months and am fully behind the project.
I am pleased that this issue remains very much on the radar at Westminster and I recently attended a debate on Neonicotinoid Pesticides and Bees which generated much interest and I was delighted to see it so well attended.
I am passionate about bees and I have long campaigned for greater protection for these pollinators that are so very vital to our environment, wildlife and food supply.
I was delighted when the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs introduced the National Pollinator Strategy. However, neonicotinoid pesticides pose a potential new threat to our declining bee population and is an issue that must be taken extremely seriously.
At the debate, I urged DEFRA to give careful consideration to the new evidence about the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on our bees and to do this with balance and consideration for the need to produce food healthily and sustainability.
Please find my speech here: