Updated: Industry bodies set out wishes as new Defra team confirmed

Industry bodies are lining up to meet with Andrea Leadsom following her appointment as the new environment secretary replacing Liz Truss, now justice secretary, while George Eustice retains his Defra role and Therese Coffey replaces Rory Stewart at the department.

Andrea Leadsom
Andrea Leadsom

Greg Clarke is the new Business, Energy and Industrial strategy Secretary and Sajid Javid is new Communities secretary. 

Rory Stewart has moved from Defra to the Department for International Development. Therese Coffey is new. George Eustice and Lord Gardiner keep their roles. Marcus Jones remains as parks minister within DCLG.

Brexit campaigner Eustice said: "I said during the [Brexit] campaign that I hoped to be the first Farming Minister in over 40 years with the power to design a new national agriculture policy starting from first principles, so I am delighted to be continuing at Defra.

"While there is a huge task ahead I am looking forward to the opportunities we now have to do things differently outside the EU."

Coffey, the Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal, voted in February 2011 in favour of the coalition Government selling public forests and woodland, a move that was subsequently dropped after widespread protests. Coffey backed the remain camp in the recent EU membership referendum.

President Meurig Raymond said: "I would like to congratulate Mrs Leadsom on her appointment as Defra Secretary of State. I, along with the rest of the NFU officeholder team, will be looking to arrange a meeting with her as soon as possible. The NFU hopes it can work with her in a similarly productive manner as it did with her predecessor Liz Truss.

"Following a period of uncertainty we are now entering a significant time for our nation following the Brexit vote and the NFU and farming industry is looking forward to working closely with Mrs Leadsom as we together help forge the future of farming and food production in this country. At the forefront will be a new domestic agricultural policy. This should encourage growth, innovation, productivity and profitability.

"However, there are also many issues that need addressing more immediately - we need a simpler application process and improved delivery for BPS; we need a guarantee from Government that agreements for farmers in agri-environment schemes will be honoured in full; we need a continuing commitment to the 25-year TB eradication strategy. And above all, we hope that Mrs Leadsom will champion British food and farming.  Our industry has a great story to tell and it’s an industry that is optimistic about meeting the challenges ahead.

"There are many uncertainties to overcome – trade agreements, labour, financial support, legislation are all up in the air. The NFU is embarking on a consultation with our membership – the biggest of its kind for a lifetime – where we will be speaking to farmers and growers across all sectors and in all counties.  This work will be invaluable in helping to shape a future domestic agricultural policy – one which is science based, adapted to the needs of British farmers and one which promotes a profitable, productive and sustainable future for British food and farming. With this consultation, we can be sure that when working with Mrs Leadsom, the agricultural policy we push for will have the backing of the farming sector at large."

The Crop Protection Association welcomed Leadsom's appointment. Chief executive Nick von Westenholz said: "I would like to congratulate Ms Leadsom on her appointment at this crucially important time. Farming, more than any other sector, will be enormously affected by the result of the EU referendum and the new Secretary of State has a key role to play in the forthcoming negotiations on the UK’s future relationship with the EU and the rest of the world.

"For the crop protection industry it is vital that the UK continues to promote a science based approach to regulation in Europe while the UK remains part of the EU. Longer term there must be a smooth transition to life outside the EU where we can continue to incentivise and support the crop protection sector whilst promoting modern, productive agriculture and a competitive UK farming sector.

"Our industry looks forward to working with the new Secretary of State to develop a new and improved system that champions a science led regulatory approach and which supports UK farmers in ensuring a healthy, safe, reliable and affordable food supply."

The NFU said it was looking forward to working with May’s new Government. It also welcomed the appointment of David Davis as Brexit minister, after Davis said he would consult with the NFU.

Meanwhile campaign body Friends of the Earth chief executive Craig Bennett said: "Whatever the outcome of EU negotiations Andrea Leadsom must defend and extend existing nature protections - an early test will be ruling-out the return of bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides that are currently banned by the EU.
"This week a stark official climate change risk assessment report was published: Leadsom must commit to action to protect the UK from worsening flooding and heatwaves.
"British farming now has to make the case for the public money it receives - we should not be subsidising unsustainable food production or farming practices which fail to protect and preserve Britain's green and pleasant land."

  • Lord Taylor of Holbeach is Lords Chief Whip.
  • Earl of Courtown is Deputy Chief Whip.

May has scrapped the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Dutch vegetable open days

Dutch vegetable open days

Brassicas, squashes, salads, roots and alliums were all on show as growers, advisers, agents and buyers visited the main seed breeders' sites, Gavin McEwan reports.

A growing choice - the industry assesses alternatives to peat

A growing choice - the industry assesses alternatives to peat

Industry efforts to reduce peat continue as coir suppliers invest in continuous supply and growers take part in trials to assess alternatives, Gavin McEwan reports.

National Fruit Show 2016 - Business post-Brexit to be a key talking point

National Fruit Show 2016 - Business post-Brexit to be a key talking point

The post-Brexit political and regulatory landscape will be the subject of much attention from growers at this year's event.