Mark Spencer replaces Victoria Prentis as Defra Agriculture Minister

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A former chairman of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, MP Mark Spencer, has been appointed agriculture minister at Defra, replacing Victoria Prentis who had held the post for more than two years.

The MP for Sherwood was president of the YF from 1999 to 2000 and hails from a farm in the constituency he represents. Before being elected to parliament, Mr Spencer studied at Shuttleworth Agricultural College in Bedfordshire and then joined the family farming business.

A former dairy farm, the Spencer business has branched out into growing potatoes and vegetables and producing free-range eggs, beef and lamb, and employs around 50 local people. Mr. Spencer was also a Trustee of the Royal Agricultural Society of England and, for three years, Honorary Director of the Royal Show and Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society.

He became an MP in 2010 and served on the Environmental Audit Committee and the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.

He previously served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to then-Secretary Liz Truss and was appointed Deputy Government Whip in 2016, before becoming full Government Whip in 2017 and then Chief Whip in 2019.

Posting on Twitter, Mr Spencer said he was ‘looking forward to supporting food production, the environment and our rural communities’.

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Ms Prentis, who had held the position since February 2020, has been moved to a ministerial position in the Department for Work and Pensions.

It comes after Ranil Jayawardena was appointed Defra’s new secretary earlier this week, following a reshuffle by Prime Minister Truss that ousted George Eustice.

Responding to his new role, Mr Jayawardena said it was a “privilege” to be appointed Secretary of State at Defra.

“From food security and support for UK farmers, to water security and growing our rural economy, I know there is a lot to do,” he said, adding that it was also important to recognize where the food came from.

‘I recently met local farmers with the NFU, to discuss government support for UK agriculture and future export growth.’

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