The Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) has welcomed Steve Reed MP as the newly appointed Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) following the 2024 General Election.

Prime Minister Keir Starmer has appointed his Cabinet after the Labour Party formed a Government on July 5.

As chief executive of the UK’s agri-supply trade association, AIC’s Robert Sheasby congratulated Steve Reed on his new role and stressed the need to provide certainty for the UK agricultural industry by tackling several important policy issues left incomplete.


AIC represents 230 businesses in the animal feed, crop protection and agronomy, fertiliser, grain trading and seed sectors within the supply chains that feed the nation.

Robert Sheasby said: “On behalf of AIC, I congratulate Steve Reed MP on his appointment as Defra secretary. Our industry now desperately needs greater certainty to give businesses the confidence to invest.

“The early General Election means there is profound uncertainty on a number of essential policy issues left unfinished by the previous government.

“This includes the National Action Plan for Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products, due diligence on forest risk commodities, regulatory reform proposals in the Food Standards Agency (FSA), precision breeding (gene editing) legislation, and a land use framework strategy.”

The AIC has stated that it strongly supports the government’s manifesto commitment to seek an improved trade agreement with the European Union by negotiating a functioning veterinary or ‘Sanitary/Phytosanitary (SPS)’ agreement.

It believes that this could have “significant benefits” for the entire agricultural supply chain, including UK farmers.

“Our country needs a comprehensive, cohesive approach to food security with an independent, statutory committee providing a joined-up, cross-government strategy,” Sheasby continued.

“We also need a standardised approach to sustainability in the supply chains which make up our food system.

“We look forward to working with the new UK Government to deliver for modern, sustainable, commercial agriculture,” he concluded.