Former Chief Whip Mark Spencer appointed Defra Agriculture Minister

Former Chief Whip Mark Spencer has been appointed Minister of State for Defra, replacing Victoria Prentis who held the post for more than two years.

The MP for Sherwood, who comes from a farming background, said he was “looking forward to supporting food production, the environment and our rural communities”.

Before becoming an MP, Mr Spencer studied at Shuttleworth Agricultural College in Bedfordshire, before joining the family farming business.

He became an MP in 2010 and served on the Environmental Audit Committee and the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.

He previously served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Defra Secretary Liz Truss, and was appointed Deputy Government Whip in 2016, before becoming full Government Whip in 2017.

Mr Spencer was appointed Chief Whip in 2019 under Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Responding to the new role, he said on Twitter: “Delighted to join the Defra team. Looking forward to supporting food production, the environment and our rural communities.”

Victoria Prentis, who had held the post since February 2020, has been moved to a ministerial post at the Department for Work and Pensions.

It comes after Ranil Jayawardena was appointed Defra’s new secretary earlier this week, following a reshuffle by Prime Minister Liz Truss.

Responding to his new role, Mr Jayawardena said it was a “privilege” to be appointed Secretary of State at Defra.

“From food security and support for UK farmers, to water security and growing our rural economy, I know there is a lot to do,” he said, adding that it was also important to recognize where the food came from.

‘I recently met local farmers with the NFU, to discuss government support for UK agriculture and future export growth.’

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