Who is Steve Reed, Labour’s new shadow Defra secretary?

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer made Croydon North MP Steve Reed shadow Defra secretary yesterday. But what are his views on farming?

Ahead of Sir Keir’s long-awaited reshuffle yesterday, Oldham MP Jim McMahon – who had been widely tipped for demotion – resigned from his role as shadow Defra secretary, leaving the post open.

Junior minister roles, including that of shadow farming minister Daniel Zeichner, are yet to be decided.

The appointment of Steve Reed, who represents a London seat, was a surprise to many in the industry.

See also: Jim McMahon steps down as shadow Defra secretary

He has only mentioned farmers once in parliament during his 11 years as an MP, during the horsemeat scandal – but has never spoken about agriculture.

Since his election in 2012, he has asked 24 written questions which were answered by Defra ministers, mostly about air pollution and recycling.

In 2016 and 2018, he retweeted two Guardian articles. The first was about a State of Nature report, which claimed “agricultural change is by far the most significant driver of declines”, while the second explored a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) report which suggested the creation of farmland globally was the “biggest cause of wildlife losses”.

This piece went on to say soy fed to UK pigs and chickens was driving deforestation.

Mr Reed did, however, attend a Labour Coast and Country event in 2020 which looked at how the party can “tackle the issues facing coastal and rural communities”, and in 2016 said government funding should “follow need”, whether in rural or urban areas.

He was also vice chair of the “Tidy Britain” All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and chair of the Curry Industry (APPG).

Before entering parliament, Mr Reed had a career in local government, working as leader of Lambeth Council.

According to the Labour website, he also helped to establish a “sustainable energy co-operative” in Croydon, and led calls for the council there to declare a climate emergency, though he has spoken out against the controversial Ultra Low Emission Zone scheme introduced by Labour mayor Sadiq Khan.

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