Farming News - Environment Secretary Rt Hon Theresa Villiers statement

Environment Secretary Rt Hon Theresa Villiers statement

25 Jul 2019

Teresa Villiers has issued a short statement on her appointment as Environment Secretary this afternoon.

Theresa Villiers

The Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP said:

“I feel honoured to have been asked by the Prime Minister to take on the role of Secretary of State for Defra.

“The issues this department deals with are incredibly important and I have championed a number of them, including air quality and animal welfare.

“In the coming weeks I look forward to meeting key stakeholders in the food, farming, fishing and environmental sectors. By working together we can deliver the Government’s historic commitment to leave the environment in a better state than we found it and to seize the opportunities offered by Brexit.”

Throughout the day farming industry bodies have reacted to the appointment.

Minette Batters NFU: “British farming is proud to produce some of the highest quality food in the world. I look forward to working with the new Secretary of State to showcase the incredibly high standards to which British farmers deliver food for the nation, alongside caring for our animals and the countryside. I invite Ms Villiers to join me on my farm so she can see first-hand the work that goes in to producing the country’s food and its potential for the future.

“When it comes to her political priorities, safeguarding Britain’s food producers and our domestic food supply has never been more important. Leaving the EU, our closest neighbours and trading partners, in a smooth and orderly way is vital to allow farm businesses to have a viable and sustainable future – continuing to produce food to some of the highest global standards while protecting and maintaining our iconic British landscape.

“That’s why we urge the new Secretary of State to follow up on the promise of her predecessor and commit to a high-level commission to avoid British food production standards being undermined in the pursuit of post-Brexit trade deals.”

Tim Breitmeyer, CLA President:

“We welcome Mrs Villiers to her new role as Secretary of State at Defra. We look forward to working together to ensure a healthy farming sector can help to meet the environmental challenges we collectively face, while delivering a prosperous rural economy.

“We’ve noted Mrs Villiers’ recent comments on a no deal Brexit and resulting WTO tariffs, but we know there are many farmers across the country with grave concerns. Currently 60% of our food exports go to the EU. Were draconian tariffs put in place, world class British produce would become uncompetitive in our largest market overnight.

“Having said that, there are also tremendous opportunities. We are global leaders in producing quality food to high environmental and welfare standards. As landowners we are key to meeting ambitions on climate change and the environment. The rural economy has extraordinary potential ready to be unleashed. But only an ambitious, creative and robust policy platform will support all of this.”

“She replaces Mr Gove who we wish well in his new role working across Government. We hope that he continues to champion the needs of our sector in his new brief.”

BVA President Simon Doherty :

“We welcome the appointment of Theresa Villiers and look forward to an early meeting to discuss the urgent issues of animal sentience, veterinary workforce, and the impact of no-deal on the animal health and welfare sector.

“The new Prime Minister’s well-publicised deal or no-deal strategy means that we need a strong and well-informed voice in Cabinet championing animal health and welfare and understanding the veterinary role in public health and international trade. 

“The next few months will be critical for our profession and we will continue to represent vets at the highest level.”

Phil Stocker, National Sheep Association: NSA met with Ms Villiers a few months ago, in response to our concerns about her extreme stance on animal welfare. We are looking forward to meeting her again soon to ensure she is as well informed as possible and can continue the work being done within Defra on a number of topics, including the priority issue of Brexit.
“We are keeping our fingers crossed today that Robert Goodwill, Farming Minister, stays in his post. While reasonably new to the role, Mr Goodwill will represent some continuity at this time of huge upheaval.”

Ian Wright CBE, FDF Chief Executive:

“We are very much looking forward to working with the new Secretary of State and building on our extremely positive relationship with Defra.

”As set out in the industry’s Plan for Success – we eagerly anticipate the creation of a much needed National Food Strategy which encourages growth, respect for food and drink as an essential resource, and which drives sustainable consumption and production.

”Alongside partners from the Food and Drink Sector Council, we stand ready to deliver a thriving and productive UK food and drink industry which boosts the UK economy and provides abundant choice for shoppers.”