The Committee was set up in July 2005. The Committee oversees the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) which was formed from the old MAFF and the 'green' parts of the Department of the Environment, Transport and Regions, and which also took some responsibilities from the Home Office. The Committee also examines the work of the Department's associated public bodies, including the Environment Agency, English Nature, the Rural Payments Agency and the Meat and Livestock Commission (a comprehensive list can be found at
The Committee covers a huge range of policy areas, from farming and fisheries to biodiversity and waste disposal. The Committee is a Departmental Select Committee and has fourteen members. The Committee has the power to set up a Sub-committee, and has in the past chosen to do so on an ad hoc basis, setting up smaller groups to look at specific topics such as the use of pesticides, the future for UK fishing and the information provided on food labelling. The Committee appointed an all-purpose general Sub-committee on 9 January 2008.
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and its associated public bodies.
The Committee is one of the departmental select committees, the powers of which are set out in House of Commons Standing Orders, principally in SO No. 152.