Steve Reed announced as new Defra secretary 

Steve Reed has just been appointed as the new secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs. 

Steve Reed has been appointed the new Defra secretary. 

Mr Reed was previously Defra’s shadow minister since September 2023 as well as shadow secretary of state for justice and shadow lord chancellor.

The new environment secretary is the MP for Streatham and Croydon North. Previously, he was also the leader of the Lambeth Council. 

Some farmers commenting on farming forums have raised concerns that the new Defra secretary is city born and bred, with no rural or farming experience.

Meanwhile, a number of ministers and former ministers with farming knowledge lost their seats in the recent election, including Sir Mark Spencer.

Keir Starmer is expected to appoint the rest of his ministerial team in the next few days. 

READ MORE: What does a Labour government mean for farming?

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Complex and broad issues 

Following the appointment of the new Defra secretary, Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: “I would like to extend my congratulations to Steve Reed and wish him every success in his role.  

“From tackling rural crime; championing farmers and producers; recognising the role of wildlife management and the value of trail hunting, shooting and fishing; and delivering a connected countryside, the issues facing the new Defra team are complex and broad. 

“Both Steve Reed and the prime minister, Keir Starmer, have talked about respecting the countryside and have acknowledged their own party’s past failings when approaching our rural community.  

“Time will tell if these words are put into action, but the Countryside Alliance stands willing and ready to work with the government to achieve results for the countryside.” 

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What should farmers expect from the new government?

Steve Reed has been announced as new Defra secretary.

In its manifesto, Labour said it would set a target for half of all food purchased across the public sector to be locally produced or certified to higher environmental standards.  

The party also pledged to introduce a land-use framework and ‘make environment land management schemes work for farmers and nature’.  

On trade, the party said it would publish a strategy that promotes the highest standards when it comes to food production.  

However, the manifesto refers to the badger cull as ‘ineffective’, promising to work with farmers and scientists to eradicate bovine TB and end the cull.   

The party also wants to improve responsible access to nature through the creation of nine new national river walks, three new national forests, and the expansion of wetlands, peatlands and forests.  

Additionally, there are plans to upgrade the national transmission infrastructure to improve grid connections.  

There have also been rumours that the party could impose an inheritance tax on farms, though this has not been confirmed by the party.    

READ MORE: General election: What is each party promising farmers?

READ MORE: Farmers lit bonfires to highlight lack of attention amid general election

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