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By National Federation of Builders
National Federation of Builders

I have plenty of mud on my boots to bring an experienced, independent voice to the EFRA Committee

3 min read

As a farmer and a chartered surveyor specialising in rural practice and land management issues, I have the experience and knowledge to be the next chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee.

I come from generations of farmers and represent the highly rural constituency of the Cotswolds. As an MP and farmer, I have a uniquely personal experience of many of the agricultural and environmental issues that we discuss in Parliament. I understand the food security needs of this country as I have worked with national supermarkets and restaurant chains, providing them with high-quality produce.

I have seen the impacts of climate change on farmers as well as the incredible environmental schemes introduced, my involvement includes the planting of thousands of trees. I recognise the challenges in the industry to attract younger people, so on my own farm I have created employment opportunities for them. Younger people are so important as they are often far more apt in adopting new technologies, improving efficiency and welfare, while working towards the industries net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 target.

To put it simply, agriculture is in my blood and I have dedicated much of my parliamentary life to championing the issues covered by the EFRA remit.

I want to see the ‘f’ for food firmly put back into Defra

Last week, a colleague expressed surprise that anyone would want to stand for chair as it is so much work.  Of course it is and I welcome the challenge! I have considerable experience of working on busy, influential committees such as the former Environment Committee and therefore understand the high workload and dedication required to chair and plan detailed inquiries.

As deputy chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for the last six years, I work closely with the Labour chair as well as Conservative colleagues to scrutinise government spending. Most recently, I played a leading role in our PAC hearing on the government’s Environmental Land Management Schemes.

During Covid I did not shy away from challenging government policy and if elected I intend to continue holding the government to account when raising important matters on behalf of the Committee.

This is a critical time for the environment and farming. It is vital that the UK produces more of its own food so that we are less vulnerable to international shortages or price rises and to prevent us from exporting our climate and welfare responsibilities. I want to see the "f" for food firmly put back into Defra.

Inflation in the food supply chain could be the biggest threat in the cost-of-living crisis. At the same time, we must work towards our ambitious environmental goals. The decisions we take now will affect our environmental performance for decades to come. If elected as chair, I would also prioritise flood protection, air quality, water quality, supporting our farmers, conservation, and climate change.

I will work in a collaborative cross-party way to achieve the best outcome for the reputation and effectiveness of the Committee. An important part of the chair’s role is to effectively represent the Committee’s findings to government ministers. I believe I command the respect to do this well. 

I firmly believe cross-party cooperation is essential when it comes to investigating Defra’s key policy areas and with your support, I am confident we can pursue these goals should I be elected as chair of the EFRA Select Committee. 


Geoffrey Clifton-Brown is the Conservative MP for The Cotswolds.

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