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‘The work starts now’: NFU meets with new Defra secretary

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

L-R: Defra Secretary Steve Reed, NFU President Tom Bradshaw, NFU head of external affairs Scott Pepe and Farming Minister Daniel Zeichner. Image: Defra
L-R: Defra Secretary Steve Reed, NFU President Tom Bradshaw, NFU head of external affairs Scott Pepe and Farming Minister Daniel Zeichner. Image: Defra
National Farmers Union (NFU) president Tom Bradshaw met new Defra secretary of state Steve Reed to discuss policy reform and the future of food security in the UK.

Topics high on the agenda during their face-to-face meeting included reforms required around planning policy to enable investment in the infrastructure on farm that will mitigate environmental risk, drive productivity and deliver for food security.

The budget was also a key topic – research commissioned by the NFU found that England needed and annual agriculture budget of about £4bn, which it estimated would translate to a UK-wide budget of about £5.6bn.

Urgent issues

Other urgent issues brought up in the meeting included ensuring the flood recovery fund delivers for affected farmers, early payment of de-linked BPS (basic payment scheme) to aid essential cash-flow on farms and improving the offer to farmers for SFI (Sustainable Farming Incentive) and wider environmental schemes.

Commenting on his visit to Westminster, NFU President Tom Bradshaw said: “I would like to congratulate Steve Reed on his appointment as Defra secretary at what is a crucial moment for British agriculture.

“I look forward to building on our strong engagement to date with Labour ministers to discuss essential policy solutions on key issues for our members. Critically, this will include securing the investment required to deliver for food security and the legislated environmental targets, as well as bovine TB, seasonal workers and import controls.”

Meeting of minds

Bradshaw and Reed were also joined by newly appointed farming minister Daniel Zeichner, who previously shadowed the role when Labour was in opposition.

“We've known Daniel for several years now and have built up a really good relationship,”​ Bradshaw added. “We look forward to working with all of the team in Defra to deliver for you, our members on the ground, and for food security for the public.”

Reed took to social media platform X to share his support for the food and farming industry.

“It is the privilege of my life to lead this department and serve our great country,”​ he said. “The work starts now.”

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