Rural development programmes should place more emphasis on competitive agriculture and less on environmental considerations, according to new farm minister Jim Paice:
In some respects this may be seen as a return to a MAFF-style productionism at Defra, even if the name of the department has not (yet) changed. However, it is often forgotten that there are three dimensions to sustainability: economic, social and environmental. What the balance should be between these is a matter for debate.
The biggest challenge facing Defra is the budget cuts that are going to hit it given the ring fencing of the NHS and lower than average cuts that are likely in defence and education. If it wasn't for coalition politics, one might wonder why Energy and Climate Change needs to be a separate ministry.