FORMER Farm Minister George Eustice has been promoted to the top job at Defra.

Mr Eustice has taken over as Environment Secretary from Theresa Villiers as part of a Cabinet reshuffle somewhat overshadowed by the resignation of Chancellor Sajid Javid and his replacement by Richmond MP Rishi Sunak.

NFU president Minette Batters congratulated Mr Eustice on his appointment and said she looked forward to working with him to help pave the way for a thriving food and farming sector post-Brexit.

Mrs Batters said the Secretary of State’s support would be crucial as British farming faces new opportunities and challenges in life outside the EU, and will play a key part in ensuring Britain’s food values are not compromised in future trade deals.

She said: “British farming is among the best in the world at producing safe, traceable and nutritious food and I look forward to working with the new Secretary of State to position British food and farming as a global leader in sustainable, high quality climate-friendly food.

“George Eustice is well respected within the farming community for his knowledge and understanding of farming but also his hard work as a Minister in Defra over the past six years. I hope to welcome him on to my farm very soon to further discuss British farming’s potential as we start a life outside of the EU.”

The appointment of Mr Eustice was welcomed by the National Sheep Association, whose chief executive, Phil Stocker, said: "NSA welcomes Mr Eustice to this new role and we hope to continue our strong working relationship with him as agricultural policy evolves in the future as we enter into new farming support schemes and trade arrangements."

Mr Eustice, the MP for Camborne and Redruth, first worked at Defra in 2013. He resigned a year ago due to disagreements with the then Prime Minister Theresa May over Brexit, but was made Farm Minister again by Boris Johnson last July.