Andrea Leadsom: “farming.. is a bedrock of.. the environment”. Err…


New Defra Secretary of State Andrea Leadsom has sent a statement to Farmers Weekly, the farming newspaper. Although the paper has not published the full statement, here are the quotes it uses:

“Nothing is more important than the food we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink”.

“On 23 June, the people of this country voted to leave the European Union and we must now carry out their instruction,” she said.

“I believe this give us an unparalleled chance to design a set of policies that are tailored to the needs of the UK, rather than 28 different member states. We must seize the opportunities that lie ahead.”

The Secretary of State said the UK should work with our European neighbours “so that we get the best terms for the industry”.

“My ministers and I will lead from the front in these negotiations, championing the industry and all that it has to offer.

“Britain is a truly great country that has always thrived and prospered on the world stage. We have always been a leading economic power, opening markets and championing free trade across the world. And with your top-quality products, drive and innovation, we will continue to do so.”

She said farming was central to our national identity and important to local communities.

“Food and farming generates more than £100bn/year for our economy, while managing nearly three-quarters of the UK’s land. The sector is a bedrock of our economy and environment.

“So while much of our focus will understandably be on the future of farming when we leave the EU, we will not lose sight of the challenges we face now, such as low farm prices, the shortage of skills and apprenticeships and of course the scourge that is bovine TB.”

Speaking about the interregnum, which could be two or more years, she made the obvious point that the UK was still part of the EU and it would be “business as usual”.

“The current arrangements for food, farming and the environment remain in place. Farmers will continue to receive their support payments”

“Our continued investment in state-of-the-art science and technology is making our farmers among the most efficient and productive in the world.

“We are recognised as a global hub of agricultural research, leading the way in finding solutions to some of the world’s greatest agricultural challenges.

“The Great British brand is stronger than ever, renowned across the globe for its quality, innovation and tradition.

“Whether it’s English cheese, Scotch whisky, Welsh lamb or Northern Irish beef, people want to buy our products. International trade is at the heart of our economy.”

Mrs Leadsom said the UK had a real opportunity to forge strong economic links with our European neighbours, as well as our friends in North America, the Commonwealth and other countries around the world.

“As we draw up our plans, it is vital we harness your knowledge, experience and common sense. We will make sure your voices are heard,” she said.

“While there is much to be done, I am enthusiastic and positive about the task ahead. British farming has a proud heritage and by working together, we can ensure it has an even greater future.”

So, not much if anything new here – I have already laid out what she has already said, here.

What is interesting is the tone and what she has not said.

She claimed farming as “the bedrock” of the environment, which is of course precisely the opposite of the truth.

Her emphasis is on free trade, productivity, technology, research and brand.

Communities were mentioned only once, which will do little to calm the nerves of upland communities, utterly dependant as they currently are,  on farm subsidies.

She said nothing about the need to protect soil, or nature, or that farmers needed to play a key role in mitigating the effects of, and adapting to climate change. On the plus side she avoided mentioning any need to “feed the world”.

But she did specifically mention the “scourge” of Bovine TB. That sounds to me like a signal that more badger cull areas will be announced soon.

Photo by Policy Exchange – Flickr: Andrea Leadsom MP, CC BY 2.0,

About Miles King

UK conservation professional, writing about nature, politics, life. All views are my own and not my employers. I don't write on behalf of anybody else.
This entry was posted in agriculture, Andrea Leadsom, Defra and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Andrea Leadsom: “farming.. is a bedrock of.. the environment”. Err…

  1. Pingback: Andrea Leadsom: “farming is a bedrock of the environment”. Err… – A secondary thought line

  2. mark p nagle says:

    Reblogged this on Spineless Chef and commented:
    What the every day person has always thought, the crazy regulations, milk quotas ect will be gone soon!

  3. Spike says:

    Yes unfortunately this appointment is bad news – it sounds like MAFF is back and has gobbled up the E from DEFRA. Looks like another sleep deprived few months in the cull zones 😟

  4. dayetucker2011 says:

    With every word my fury increased. She’s simply parroting regurgitated meaningless DEFRA bureaucratic verbage. Farming is gubbed. End of.

  5. Vulgaris@67 says:

    I’ve decided to follow the lead of my very wise kids and given up (pretty much) dairy products. Ok the organic sector may be somewhat better but modern dairy farming both here and worse in USA is the true scourge of the UK and global environment. Basically, sick and tired of reading statements from the likes of Leadsom and all the utterly (recent) useless SoSs before her. I’m sure it won’t be long before the NFU et al will be lining up alongside their natural constituency the Tory party if she keeps up with the clap trap above. It never ceases to amaze me that when there are over 300 Tory MPs they manage to find someone that despises the environment. Leadsom is a red-tape cutter, a deregulator, free-marketer. I presume we can expect a bonfire of the regulations or is that just what Teresa Mayhem is hoping for – a car-crash SoS?

  6. Tom R says:

    @Mark P Nagle And with the regulations so too the European Protected Species, other threatened and rare species and all the things that make the environment special and not a God awful monoculture.

  7. Lindsay says:

    No mention of animal welfare, biodiversity, pollinators, localising production, rural communities. This woman is a disaster on legs. I predict they will blast badgers to infinity, give loads of permissions for neonics, continue giving their rich landowning mates big subsidies for their vile grouse moors – thus resulting in down stream communities being flooded, increase GMO trials, relax already inadequate animal welfare monitoring. If only they were intelligent enough to understand that farms can have multi functions – food production, biodiversity, energy production, carbon capture, water management.

  8. No signs for optimism here unfortunately, just a lot of word splurging and pandering to the soul of the NFU. On that note, it seems the NFU are determined to go it alone and voice the views only of their members, rather than work with other groups to work for a broader interest.

    • Steph says:

      Wonderful words from a wonderful woman. Guys if you fancy rolling your sleeves up and getting down to producing food, protecting the environs, preserving the rural way of life and all on less than a shoestring then feel free – your countryside needs you. Otherwise please stop judging, pontificating and critisiing from your favourite armchair. Please start supporting you countryside now.

      • Miles King says:

        Thanks for your comment Steph.

        I’ve spent most of my life trying to protect the environment, and I don’t intend to stop any time soon.

  9. Pingback: The Green Transformation: Labour gets in a muddle about food security | a new nature blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.