Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

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Department for Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs logo.svg
Department overview
Formed 2001
Preceding agencies Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
Jurisdiction United Kingdom
Headquarters Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London
51°29′44″N 0°07′34″W / 51.49556°N 0.12611°W / 51.49556; -0.12611
Annual budget £2.2 billion (current) & £400 million (capital) for 2011-12 [1]
Minister responsible Liz Truss, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Department executive Bronwyn Hill, Permanent Secretary
Child agencies Animal and Plant Health Agency
Food and Environment Research Agency
Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science
Rural Payments Agency
Veterinary Medicines Directorate

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the government department responsible for environmental protection, food production and standards, agriculture, fisheries and rural communities in the United Kingdom. Concordats set out agreed frameworks for co-operation between it and the Scottish Government,[2] Welsh Government[3] and Northern Ireland Executive,[4] which have devolved responsibilities for these matters in their respective nations. Defra also leads for Britain at the EU on agricultural, fisheries and environment matters and in other international negotiations on sustainable development and climate change, although a new Department of Energy and Climate Change was created on 3 October 2008 to take over the last responsibility.

DEFRA has recently been involved in controversial trial badger culls in two areas of England in North Somerset and Gloucestershire.

As of the reshuffle of 7 October 2013, the department has not had a Minister of State following the return of David Heath to the backbenches, his replacement Dan Rogerson only having the rank of Parliamentary Under Secretary of State.[5]


It was formed in June 2001 under the leadership of Margaret Beckett, when the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) was merged with part of the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) and with a small part of the Home Office. The department was created after the perceived failure of MAFF to deal adequately with an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease. The Department had about 9,000 core personnel, as of January 2008.[6] The Department's main building is Nobel House on Smith Square, SW1.

In October 2008, the climate team at Defra was merged with the energy team from the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) to create the Department of Energy and Climate Change, then headed by Ed Miliband.[7]


The Defra Ministers are as follows:[8]

Minister Rank Portfolio
Liz Truss MP Secretary of State Strategy and overall responsibility for departmental policy; Budget and finances; Legislative programme; Emergencies; EU and international relations; Environment Agency and Natural England
Dan Rogerson MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Water, Forestry, Rural Affairs and Resource Management Water, Resource and Environmental Management, Rural Affairs and Forestry.
George Eustice MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Farming, Food and Marine Environment Farming and Food, Marine and Fisheries, Animal Health
Lord de Mauley[9] Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Natural Environment and Science. All departmental business in the House of Lords; Natural Environment, Science and Research, Major commercial projects and Departmental administration.
Key Conservative
Liberal Democrat

The Permanent Secretary is Bronwyn Hill.[10]


Defra is responsible for British Government policy in the following areas[11]

Some policies apply to England alone due to devolution, while others are not devolved and therefore apply Britain as a whole.

Executive agencies[edit]

The department's executive agencies are:[12]

Key delivery partners[edit]

The department's key delivery partners are:[15]

A full list of departmental delivery and public bodies may be found on the Defra website.[18]

Defra in the English regions[edit]

A Countryside Stewardship Scheme sign near a new stile a Cratfield, Suffolk

Policies for environment, food and rural affairs are delivered in the regions by Defra's executive agencies and delivery bodies, in particular Natural England, the Rural Payments Agency, Animal Health and the Marine Management Organisation.

Defra provides grant aid to the following flood and coastal erosion risk management operating authorities:

Aim and strategic priorities[edit]

Defra's overarching aim is sustainable development, which is defined as "development which enables all people throughout the world to satisfy their basic needs and enjoy a better quality of life without compromising the quality of life of future generations." The Secretary of State wrote in a letter to the Prime Minister that he saw Defra’s mission as enabling a move toward what the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has called "one planet living".[19]

Under this overarching aim, Defra has five strategic priorities:[20]

  • Climate change and energy.
  • Sustainable consumption and production, including responsibility for the National Waste Strategy.
  • Protecting the countryside and natural resource protection.
  • Sustainable rural communities.
  • A sustainable farming and food sector including animal health and welfare.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Budget 2011. London: HM Treasury. 2011. p. 48. Retrieved 30 December 2011. 
  2. ^ "Concordat between MAFF and the Scottish Executive". 
  3. ^ "Concordat between MAFF and the Cabinet of the National Assembly for Wales". 
  4. ^ "Devolution: Subject specific Concordat between MAFF and the Scottish Executive on fisheries". 
  5. ^ "Heath shuffled aside to make way for more Lib Dems". 
  6. ^ "Defra departmental report". 
  7. ^ Harrabin, Roger (3 October 2008). "Marrying energy demand and supply". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-05-22. 
  8. ^ "Cabinet Office List of Government Departments and Ministers: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs". Retrieved 2013-12-21. 
  9. ^ "New Environment Secretary, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State appointed". 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2012-09-12. 
  10. ^ New Permanent Secretary for Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, Defra
  11. ^ "Cabinet Office List of Ministerial Responsibilities, July 2010". 2010-09-16. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  12. ^ "List of ministerial responsibilities (including Executive Agencies and Non-Ministerial Departments)" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  13. ^ "DEFRA Agencies shake-up", news release by DEFRA, 29 June 2010 (from the DEFRA website)
  14. ^ "Launch of Animal Health", news release by Animal Health, 2 April 2007 (from the Defra website)
  15. ^ "Working with others: Defra's delivery partners", Chapter 6, Departmental Report 2006 (from the Defra website)
  16. ^ "Marine Management Organisation established", press release by Defra, 1 April 2010 (from the Defra website.
  17. ^ "New champion for the environment launches", press release by Natural England, 11 October 2006 (from the Natural England website)
  18. ^ "Delivery Landscape Map". 
  19. ^ "My priorities for Defra", David Miliband's letter to the Prime Minister, 11 July 2006
  20. ^ "Delivering the Essentials of Life: Defra’s Five Year Strategy", Annex B

External links[edit]

Video clips[edit]