About us

What we do

We are the UK government department responsible for policy and regulations on environmental, food and rural issues.


We are responsible for policy and regulations on:

  • the natural environment, biodiversity, plants and animals
  • sustainable development and the green economy
  • food, farming and fisheries
  • animal health and welfare
  • environmental protection and pollution control
  • rural communities and issues

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


Our priorities are:

  • leading the world in food and farming
  • protecting our country from floods and animal and plant diseases
  • improving the environment
  • championing the countryside and improving rural services

Our 10 point growth plan underpins our four priorities:

  • Growing our sectors and their exports

    • increase exports and competitiveness in the food chain
    • set the conditions to ensure that GM and nanotechnology can play a part in contributing to economic growth
    • improve rural competitiveness and skills, invest in tourism and support micro-enterprises
    • proactively safeguard animal and plant health
    • reduce waste and inefficiency
  • Investing in infrastructure

    • improve broadband and mobile phone access in rural areas
    • invest in flood and coastal protection
    • Thames Tideway Tunnel
  • Removing regulatory and other barriers to growth

    • unblock growth potential by removing red tape and improving environmental challenge
    • make it simpler and quicker to comply with the Habitats and Wild Birds Directives

Detailed actions can be found in our Business Plan

Who we are

We have around 10,000 staff, including those at our executive agencies. Our staff are mainly based in London, York, Bristol and Alnwick, but we have many other offices throughout England.

Our headquarters building is Nobel House, in Smith Square, London SW1.

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