Former Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, has made a surprise political comeback as Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle
His predecessor, Andrea Leadsom, has been appointed as the Leader of the House of Commons.
Gove, who had previously held the education portfolio, was demoted from his role as Justice Secretary by Theresa May last year after an unsuccessful run for the leadership position following David Cameron's resignation.
Ian Wright, director general of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said,"It is a big boost that the Prime Minister has appointed one of the cabinet's heaviest hitters to a ministry so significantly at the heart of Brexit. We very much look forward to working with Mr Gove and his new team. With them and with friends from NFU and across UK food and drink we will champion the growth of the industry in the exciting months to come.”
In an open letter to Gove, Meurig Raymond, National Farmers' Union (NFU) president, stated,"On behalf of the 55,000 members of the NFU, may I offer you my sincere congratulations on your appointment as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. We look forward to working with you, alongside our friends and colleagues from the Food and Drink Federation, as well as other food and farming organisations at a critical time for our industry.
“British farms grow the raw ingredients for the UK food and drink manufacturing sector, the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, worth £109 billion and providing 3.8 million jobs. Farming is of enormous value to the economy - for every £1 invested, farming delivers around £7 back to this country. British farmers are proud to provide over 60% of the nation’s food and manage 70% of UK landscape. We do this all while focusing on producing safe, nutritious and high-quality food for people at home and abroad.
“And we can and want to deliver more. We are looking to Defra; to work with us and our members, to champion farming within the Government and to work closely with the devolved governments across the UK. Our shared aim is to ensure a productive, progressive and profitable future for British farmers and assurance to British consumers.
“With farming arguably the sector most impacted by Brexit, NFU members need certainty as soon as possible that this Government will make Brexit a success for British food and farming. To achieve our potential, we need a future post-Brexit trade arrangement that delivers the best possible access to the vital EU market, as well as continued access to a competent and reliable workforce. With your experience in reforming policy environments we look forward to working with you to create a new wider policy framework that better delivers for British food and farming - and for our nation.
“We are also calling on the new Government to support British farming through a number of other measures; Bovine TB continues to blight the UK’s livestock sector which is why it is so important that the Government’s 25-Year TB Eradication strategy is implemented in full. Licensing and access to plant protection products is another area of concern for UK farmers; the NFU has consistently advocated for regulation to be based on robust, scientific evidence and consequently I very much hope you will be able to give your support to the reauthorisation of glyphosate which is a very important product for British farmers to have access to. Later this summer, the NFU will launch its Rural Crime Manifesto where we highlight the very serious impact of issues like fly-tipping, theft and hare coursing for farms and rural communities."