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New Government, New Start

13 May 2010
National Farmers Union

UK - Caroline Spelman has been appointed as Secretary of State at Defra and Chris Huhne as the new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

These appointments have been welcomed by National Farmers' Union (NFU).

“First of all, let me offer congratulations to Caroline Spelman on her appointment as Defra Secretary of State. I look forward to meeting her at the earliest opportunity. The Tories have promised to put the ‘f’, farming, back into Defra and I know that message has gone down well with farmers up and down the country.

“Secondly, I am also delighted to hear that Chris Huhne is going to head up the energy and climate change department. I am convinced that farmers have a central role to play in contributing to the low-carbon economy that figures as an ambition in both parties’ manifestos. And with his having held the shadow portfolio for Defra, I am sure that Mr Huhne will have a keen grasp of farming’s potential.

“We are still waiting for full details of ministerial appointments in both departments. And, clearly, a coalition government is new territory for all of us. But I would like say, up front, that the NFU is committed to playing its part in the “hard and difficult work ahead” that the new Prime Minister has talked about.

“One thing is clear. The scale of action needed to reduce the budget deficit is extraordinary and will impact across every area of government. I recognise that Defra will not be immune from the measures that need to be taken.

“For us, protecting the competitiveness of the food and farming sector is paramount. The challenge of ensuring food supplies for the UK and the rest of the world is simply too great and too serious for it to be put at risk. We will be looking very closely at emerging policy statements to make sure that does not happen and that any cuts which have to be made actually go towards enhancing the ability of farmers and growers to compete.”

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