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Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: our vision

The environment is the natural foundation on which our society and economy are built. Our long-term prosperity, economic success and quality of life are enhanced by our environment. If we use and manage our natural assets in a sustainable way, they will continue to meet not only our needs, such as for energy, sustenance, minerals, fresh water, clean air and fertile soils, but also the needs of future generations.


The food sector plays a key part in our economy, and farmers play a crucial role in managing the land. We will take steps to help increase the competitiveness and resilience of farms, fisheries and the whole food chain to ensure a secure, environmentally sustainable and healthy supply of food. We will also champion rural communities within government to ensure that they are strong and vibrant.

Green economy

The Coalition is committed to being the greenest government ever. This shift to a green economy offers substantial opportunities for UK businesses, driving the development of products, services, markets and jobs, and reducing costs through the efficient use of resources by all businesses and consumers. We will also work to ensure that our economy and society are resilient to shocks, by adapting to the impacts of climate change and preparing for emergencies such as animal disease outbreaks, floods and droughts.

We will move to a new model that gives more responsibility to the sectors and local areas, by giving them a stronger stake in finding the most innovative and cost-effective ways of managing risks. We will work in partnership with local communities and civil society to protect biodiversity, the countryside and the marine environment. We will help people take more responsibility for their environment, and encourage sustainable behaviour. We will work with the European Union and international partners to secure the UK’s objectives and ensure that decisions are based on sound science and evidence. Government has an important role to play in achieving these goals, but it cannot tackle them on its own. We must work together to ensure that our environment is used and managed sustainably, so that it is protected for the future.

Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: our priorities

Support and develop British farming and encourage sustainable food production

Help to enhance the competitiveness and resilience of the whole food chain, including farms and the fish industry, to help ensure a secure, environmentally sustainable and healthy supply of food with improved standards of animal welfare.

Help to enhance the environment and biodiversity to improve quality of life

Enhance and protect the natural environment, including biodiversity and the marine environment, by reducing pollution, mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, and preventing habitat loss and degradation.

Support a strong and sustainable green economy, resilient to climate change

Help to create the conditions in which businesses can innovate, invest and grow; encourage businesses, people and communities to manage and use natural resources sustainably and to reduce waste; work to ensure that the UK economy is resilient to climate change; and enhance rural communities.

Other major responsibilities

Prepare for and manage risk from animal and plant disease

Protect the environment, society and the economy from the risks of animal and plant disease through a range of controls, surveillance and horizon-scanning activities that help us understand the risks and maintain proportionate management responses.

Prepare for and manage risk from flood and other environmental emergencies

Maintain an effective, resilient and robust capability to respond to the full range of environmental emergencies, including by reducing the threat of flooding and coastal erosion by understanding and managing the risks.