NFUS says Andrea Leadsom ‘must hit the ground running’

Andrea Leadsom replaces Liz Truss at Defra. Picture: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images
Andrea Leadsom replaces Liz Truss at Defra. Picture: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images
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Andrea Leadsom, who stood down as Theresa May’s opponent in the Conservative leadership contest at the beginning of this week, has been appointed as the new secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs.

Liz Truss, who had held the position since 2014, was appointed as the justice secretary earlier in the day.

Leadsom, the MP for South Northamptonshire since 2010, came to prominence in the Leave campaign and had worked with George Eustice on the Fresh Start initiative in 2011, a project set up to examine the options for a new UK-EU relationships.

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Jonnie Hall, NFU Scotland’s director of policy, said the union would be making early contact with Leadsom.

He said: “The referendum result brings into sharp focus the interests that agriculture has always held in the EU in relation to trade, support and the movement of labour.

“With agriculture taking nearly 40 per cent of the European budget and tariff-free trade providing important markets for Scottish produce, it is vital that the new Defra Secretary hits the ground running and recognises the significance of the sector as we commence our withdrawal from the EU.”

The English NFU expressed its thanks to Truss for her time at the head of Defra, and articulated a hope that they could work in a “similarly productive manner” with Leadsom.

Meanwhile, a letter from the organisation’s president was one of the first through the Number 10 letter box when Meurig Raymond told Prime Minister Theresa May that the union looked forward to helping the government shape a new agricultural policy which should encourage “growth, innovation, productivity and profitability”.

Raymond said that communication lines had also been opened with the Brexit secretary, David Davis, through a letter which outlined how British farmers formed the backbone of the country’s largest manufacturing sector – food and drink processing – and said that the industry wanted to maximise farming and food production outside the EU.

However, farmers haven’t been alone in making political contacts and setting out their wish list for the post-Brexit world.

Yesterday 84 environmental groups came together to tell the new prime Minister that the food and farming sectors’ compliance with strong environmental protections “must be the bedrock principle” of any national support measures which follow on from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.

In a letter sent to Downing Street, they said better agriculture and trade policies would help cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The groups – including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, the Wildlife Trust, War on Want and Real Farming Trust – said public spending on subsidies, research or other support must be directly linked to environmental responsibilities.