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Westminster

George Eustice replaces Theresa Villiers as Defra Secretary - NPA reaction

13th Feb 2020 / By Alistair Driver

George Eustice has been appointed as Defra Secretary, replacing Theresa Villiers, who was sacked this morning after just six months in the role.

The NPA has welcomed the appointment, which it said brings continuity to the post. 

Mr Eustice, who first became a junior Minister at Defra in 2013 and has held the rank of Minister since 2015, will arrive with vast experience of the brief, having played a big part in developing Defra's post-Brexit agricultural policy. 

Mr Eustice returned to Defra in July after quitting his Ministerial role at the Department a few months earlier in protest at the Government’s Brexit policy. In his resignation letter in February, he said he feared Prime Minister Theresa May’s offer of votes on delaying Brexit could lead to the ‘final humiliation of our country’.

His family run a herd of South Devon cattle and the country’s oldest herd of the rare breed of pig, the British Lop. Last year, Mr Eustice launched a new initiative on his farm to preserve the British Lop.

Speaking at an All-Party Parliamentary Committee for Eggs, Pigs and Poultry meeting in October 2018, he gave strong reassurances on the issue of post-Brexit import standards.

“I could not be clearer that we will not water down our standards on animal and animal welfare in pursuit of a trade deal," he said.

“No Government would entertain trade deals in the years ahead that will be able to disregard the concerns of Parliament in this area. In some issues, such as chlorine washed chicken or hormone-treated beef, it would require repeal of domestic legislation before such a course could even be entertained,” he said.

NPA reaction

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies welcomed the appointment.

“We would like to warmly congratulate George on his promotion. He brings welcome continuity to the post, arriving with great knowledge of the farming industry and, importantly, a clear understanding of the complex brief," she said. 

“We look forward to working with him on the hugely important agenda ahead of us and hope that he will be a strong voice across Government in fighting for the interests of the pig sector and wider farming industry.”

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