Comment on the appointment of the new Secretary of State for Defra

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By Tom Lancaster

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Commenting on the appointment of Steve Reed OBE MP to the role of Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit's (ECIU) land, food and farming analyst Tom Lancaster said,

“Steve Reed comes into office at a critical time for farming. The wet winter is likely to reap a terrible toll on farmers and this summer’s harvest, revealing the impact that climate change is going to have on our food security if we don’t move faster to stop it. At the same time, this government takes on the critical green farming schemes just as they are about to be launched in full.

“This is a delicate moment, and Labour will need to be careful to build farmers trust, but the schemes are already providingvital income, as extreme weather linked to climate change [1] knocks up to 20% off this year’s harvest [2] and a billion off farm revenues [3]. Greener farmingwill also support farmers longer-term to build their resilience to climate change, improving soil health and planting trees and hedgerows to lessen the impact of drought and extreme rainfall.

“Previous governments have consistently failed to hit woodland creation and peatland restoration targets, so crucial to slowing climate change. Bigger, bolder policies will now be neededto make up for lost time in what is likely to be a make or break five years for farming.”