About us

What we do

We are the UK government department responsible for safeguarding our natural environment, supporting our world-leading food and farming industry, and sustaining a thriving rural economy. Our broad remit means we play a major role in people's day-to-day life, from the food we eat, and the air we breathe, to the water we drink.

Purpose

Unleashing the potential of food and farming, nature and the countryside, championing the environment and protecting us all from natural threats and hazards.

Objectives

  • a cleaner, healthier environment which benefits people and the economy
  • a world-leading food and farming industry
  • a thriving rural economy, contributing to national prosperity and wellbeing
  • a nation protected against natural threats and hazards, with strong response and recovery capabilities
  • excellent delivery, on time and to budget and with outstanding value for money
  • an organisation continually striving to be the best, focused on outcomes and constantly challenging itself

Themes

  • boosting UK productivity
  • data availability and utilisation
  • better domestic regulation
  • delivering our priorities internationally (including EU reform, US and China)

Who we are

We have around 2,000 staff working in Defra, including policy makers, scientists and research specialists. Most of our staff are based in London, but we have others in York, Bristol and other offices throughout England.

Although Defra only works directly in England, it works closely with the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and generally leads on negotiations in the EU and internationally.

Defra’s ministerial team and their responsibilities

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP

The Secretary of State has overall responsibility for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Specific responsibilities include:

  • EU and international relations
  • emergencies
  • departmental administration

Minister of State for Farming, Food and the Marine Environment

George Eustice MP

Responsibilities include:

  • food and farming
  • animal health and welfare
  • marine and fisheries
  • science and innovation
  • better regulation
  • lead responsibility for the Rural Payments Agency, FERA, Cefas and the Animal and Plant Health Agency
  • deputy for the Secretary of State on Agriculture and Fisheries Council

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Affairs

Rory Stewart MP

Responsibilities include:

  • natural environment
  • floods and water
  • resource and environmental management
  • rural affairs
  • lead responsibility for the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Forestry Commission
  • deputy for the Secretary of State on Environment Council

Defra spokesman in the House of Lords

Lord Gardiner of Kimble

Responsible for all Defra business in the House of Lords.

Lead responsibilities include:

  • biosecurity strategy
  • commercial projects
  • landscape
  • climate change adaptation

Expenditure data

Defra publishes a range of corporate information on data.gov including information on staffing and salaries.

Corporate information

Read about the types of information we routinely publish in our Publication scheme. Our Personal information charter explains how we treat your personal information.

Corporate reports