Defra recruits staff to meet Brexit challenges

Defra is looking to swell its numbers to meet the challenges of Brexit and in readiness for the UK government taking back control of agricultural policy.

It is advertising for more than 30 new recruits to join the policy and communication departments in Westminster, Bristol and York.

Defra said in the adverts: “This is a tremendously exciting time to join Defra. We are one of the lead departments in delivering a successful exit from the EU.

See also: Defra ill-prepared for Brexit, suggests report

“Leaving the EU will fundamentally change the work we do and how we deliver it.”

Backing British

Among the job opportunities are 25 policy adviser roles that will involve designing a new system for supporting farmers, with the aim to increase productivity while also improving the environment.

They will also prepare for negotiations for EU and global market access for the UK’s food and drink sector.

Defra said knowledge of food, farming or animal and plant health issues would be helpful for applicants, “but [is] not essential”.

It is also recruiting for two communication experts to promote UK food and drink in international markets.

Successful applicants will also play a key role in developing communications relationships with key international delivery partners, including the Department for International Trade and VisitBritain, to ensure there is a strategic and collaborative approach to food and drink campaigns.

A further eight senior research officer roles will work to support Defra policy on international trade and our future relationship with the European Union.

Patron of agriculture

NFU vice-president Guy Smith said it was good to see Defra bolstering itself with new staff and new resource.

“Almost from the day after last year’s referendum, the NFU have been warning that Defra would now have to transform themselves from a regulatory department that delivers policy made in Brussels to one that fully understands agriculture and acts as its patron.

“Understandably, some felt the Brexit challenge would need a revival of the old [Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food].

“We would be keen to invite them out on farm to talk to farmers with mud on their boots about the day-to-day challenge of food production,” he added.

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