New environment secretary must “understand and articulate” industry needs

Farming leaders have said that new environment secretary Michael Gove must “understand and articulate” the needs of the UK’s agricultural community during a pivotal time for the sector.

The former education and justice secretary has returned to the cabinet to replace Andrea Leadsom, who has vacated the role after less than a year to become leader of the House of Commons.

Mr Gove played a key role in the campaign to leave the EU and has been an outspoken critic of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.

Now the stance he takes on trade deals, subsidy support and environmental policies could be crucially important for the east’s rural industries when the Brexit negotiations begin.

Robert Sheasby, regional director for the National Farmers’ Union in East Anglia, said he hoped the appointment would bring some continuity to Defra after a turbulent few years – and urged him to visit the region as soon as possible to hear the concerns of farmers.

“Probably the most important thing which farmers will want across East Anglia is a bit of stability,” he said. “Mr Gove is the fifth secretary of state in seven years, and our industry, which will be the most affected by Brexit, needs confidence and certainty for the future.”

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