BSE Minister Waldegrave goes organic;

BSE Minister Waldegrave goes organic;

August 10, 2001 The Evening Standard (London)

FOR A MAN who was Minister of Agriculture at the height of the BSE crisis, it's something of a Damascene conversion.

The West Country farms belonging to Lord Walde-grave, who as William Waldegrave was John Major's Agriculture Minister during 1994-95, are in the process of "organic conversion".

Waldegrave Farms, which comprise 1,000 acres of dairy cattle at Chewton Mendip in Somerset, have applied for funding from the government's Organic Farming Scheme.

William's older brother Jamie, who inherited the title of Earl Waldegrave and runs 3,500 acres including a cheddar cheese dairy, has chosen not to join the scheme.

During his time as Agriculture Minister William saw half a dozen of his Friesian cows destroyed because of BSE. He had to change the number plates on his official car which bore the unfortunate initials CJD. He also endured controversy because of his farm's involvement in the veal industry, which was widely condemned in 1995 for its cruelty to calves.

Waldegrave's conversion to organic farming is seen as a devastating indictment of traditional farming techniques.

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