What we do

We are the UK government department responsible for policy and regulations on environmental, food and rural issues. Our priorities are to grow the rural economy, improve the environment and safeguard animal and plant health.

Responsibilities

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.

Priorities

Our priorities are to:

  • grow the rural economy
  • improve the environment
  • safeguard plant health
  • safeguard animal health

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

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Corporate reports

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