NFU county leader welcomes a new DEFRA boss who ‘knew his strawberries’
- Credit: Kieron Tovell
A Suffolk farmers’ leader has a particular reason for welcoming the appointment of George Eustice as the government’s new environment secretary, having spent family holidays with him.
Former farming minister Mr Eustice, announced last week as the new big-hitter on the DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) desk, took over from Theresa Villiers.
Ms Villiers, the successor to Michael Gove, spent just six months in the role before being ousted in a February cabinet reshuffle. The Eustice appointment has been widely welcomed among farmers, who feel he understands the industry better than his predecessor.
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His family first met the Eustice family some 40 years ago when George would have been about eight years old, he explained.
"My parents and his were very good friends and George came with the family to holiday in East Anglia," he said.
"Being involved in the soft fruit, vegetable and beef sectors they shared skills and knowledge. The Eustice family grew fruit and vegetables in Cornwall and marketed with daily trips to Midlands wholesale markets.
"George knew his strawberries, in particular. His career took the political direction but his mother and brother run a very successful farm shop, butchery and restaurant to this day, alongside their farm. Both of our fathers have since passed away.
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"George's farming background really should help agriculture's exposure in Whitehall, but of course he will now have all sectors of DEFRA to respond to - no mean task. I wish him well and will no doubt see him at the national NFU conference soon."