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.
Our purpose is to unleash the economic potential of food and farming, nature and the countryside, champion the environment and provide security against floods, animal and plant diseases and other hazards.
- a cleaner, healthier environment, benefiting people and the economy
- a world-leading food and farming industry
- a thriving rural economy, contributing to national prosperity and wellbeing
- a nation better-protected against floods, animal and plant diseases and other 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, focussed on outcomes and constantly challenging itself
Read our Single Departmental Plan to find out more about how we are performing against our objectives.
- 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 Secretary of State has overall responsibility for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Specific responsibilities include:
- EU and international relations
- departmental administration
Minister of State for Farming, Food and the Marine Environment
- 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
- 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
Responsible for all Defra business in the House of Lords.
Lead responsibilities include:
- biosecurity strategy
- commercial projects
- climate change adaptation
Defra publishes a range of corporate information on data.gov including information on staffing and salaries.