Liz Truss MP was appointed Secretary of State for Defra in the summer reshuffle and we immediately asked her to write a letter for our magazine, which is published below. In the letter the Secretary of State sets out her stall, writing about priorities for the Department and her determination to ensure a strong voice at Westminster for our rural communities.
New Defra Secretary sets out her stall
I’m delighted to have been appointed Defra Secretary and to take on a role which, as the champion of food and farming and the natural environment in Whitehall, is of critical importance, not just to our rural communities but to the country as a whole.
Since my appointment, I’ve been extremely appreciative of the warm welcome I’ve received from organisations like the Alliance and I’ve greatly enjoyed getting out and about visiting farms and shows across the country. In my own constituency of South West Norfolk, arable, horticulture, pigs and poultry are central to the local economy and I’m looking forward to building on the work of my predecessor, Owen Paterson, who did so much to open up new markets for our world-class farmers and growers. As part of our desire to see British producers take full advantage of their growing reputation for top quality food, it’s vital that we deal with the challenges facing certain sectors, not least the threat to the future of our beef and dairy industries from bovine TB. I’m determined we redouble our efforts to tackle this disease in both cattle and wildlife.
I’m also aware, through my local work, of the importance of well-maintained waterways and flood defences. This is something that’s particularly necessary in manmade landscapes such as the Fens or the Levels and where high value agricultural land is often at risk. As Defra Secretary, I will continue to make the case for investment in our flood defences and the economic and social benefits they bring.
One of the highlights of my first few days in the job was meeting Alliance staff and volunteers at the Game Fair and Royal Welsh Show and hearing about their campaigns. Whether it’s making the case for country pursuits, and the right of people to participate in them; highlighting the importance of fast and reliable broadband to rural communities and businesses; or celebrating great local food and drink, I’ve got a huge respect for the Alliance and the work it does in promoting the rural way of life.
It’s vital that our rural communities have a strong voice both in and out of government and I look forward to working with you to make sure that this is the case.
Secretary of State for Defra, Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Nobel House, Smith Square, London