The ministerial Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) was formed in 2002 to amalgamate and replace certain sections of other Departments. Its brief is therefore wide-ranging and although it is only the 10th largest Department in the government in terms of numbers of staff employed, the effectiveness of its policies is vitally important to the well-being of the nation.
Since the UK left the EU, DEFRA has revitalised its mission and been able to focus on improving the UK’s own management of its natural resources and farming industry, with better incentives and more localised expertise. DEFRA’s current priorities are:-
- regenerative agriculture
- landscape recovery
- countryside stewardship
These broadly cover all sorts of issues, from the food supply chain to air quality and everything in between. Fishing, forestry, flood risks, food animal welfare, birdlife, pets, access to common land, recycling, non-native invasive plants, chemical usage and the ‘climate change’ mania all come under DEFRA’s beady eye. Consequently, the Secretary of State for DEFRA, known as the ‘Environment Secretary’, has to deal with lobby groups that may oppose each other vehemently, e.g. farmers and ‘green’ activists, on matters that set jobs against ideology, making the role an unenviable one in some respects.
(Image: Neil Theasby at geograph.org.uk / CC BY-SA 2.0)