NFU President meets new Defra Secretary of State

08 July 2024


Secretary of State Steve Reed and NFU President Tom Bradshaw

NFU President Tom Bradshaw has met with Defra Secretary of State Steve Reed MP on his first full day in office, where they discussed key and immediate actions that are needed to enable the British food and farming sector to thrive.

Topics high on the agenda included the critical role of food security in delivering national security, the investment required for the future of farming and restrictions around planning policy.

NFU President Tom Bradshaw said: “It was great to meet with the Secretary of State today and put the importance of investing in the future of British agriculture directly to him. With this big change in government, it’s crucial that the voices of our 46,000 farmer and grower members are heard loud and clear within the new Defra team.

“Steve Reed has just outlined his plan for change and it’s good to hear that food security, the environment and flood management are all focus areas. These now need to be underpinned by a budget that will enable the necessary investment.

“Alongside these key areas, we’ll continue to work closely with Defra to provide policy solutions on issues such as bovine TB, the transition to ELMs, core standards for agri-food imports, the agricultural workforce, supply chain fairness, investment in infrastructure and flexibility in planning.”

As well as meeting with the Defra Secretary of State, the NFU has also written to MPs and Cabinet ministers outlining the importance of British farming to the nation; an industry which forms the backbone of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector – food and drink – contributing more than £146 billion to the economy and employing more than four million people.

The letters, one sent to all English and Welsh MPs and others to all Cabinet ministers in the context of their portfolios, set out the priority policies to support the nation’s shared ambition for food security and growth and will put British farming front and centre as MPs take their seats across Parliament.

Mr Bradshaw added: “In an increasingly volatile world, the production of safe, sustainable and affordable homegrown food has to be high on the political agenda. It’s something that matters to everyone and every MP.

“I urge all MPs, representing both urban and rural constituencies, to take us up on our offer of a local farm visit so they can hear first-hand about how investment in agriculture can benefit British families, British business and the great British countryside.”

More information

  1. The priorities outlined in the letters to Cabinet ministers and MPs include:
  • An increased multi-year agriculture budget for the duration of the next Parliament.
  • A transparent transition to ELMs.
  • Regulation on supply chain fairness and public procurement.
  • Controls on imports that don’t meet core production standards.
  • Access to competent, motivated and skilled workers in the horticulture and agriculture sector.
  • Planning system reform to enable investment in modern buildings and infrastructure.
  • Effective water management and compensation for storing floodwater on agricultural land.
  • An evidence-based plan for disease management, including action on bovine TB.