Sir Don Curry has been appointed chairman of the Leckford Estate, a 4000-acre working farm belonging to the Waitrose supermarket chain.

A long-standing champion of responsible farming practices, Sir Don will take up his new appointment on 28 January 2009.

Waitrose managing director Mark Price said producing food sustainably and profitably was “the great challenge” for British farming.

“Our own farm at Leckford gives us first-hand experience as a grower in the modern market,” he said.

“Although we can never fully replicate the challenges facing smaller farmers, we do appreciate the issues across the spectrum of UK agriculture.”

Sir Don brings a wealth of experience to his new role.

In the wake of the 2001 foot-and-mouth crisis, he oversaw the delivery of the government’s strategy on sustainable food and farming.

He said: “I hope to use my experience to enable Leckford and the industry to develop more solutions for the challenging times ahead.”

Sir Don has also held the posts of chairman of the NFU Mutual Insurance Society and Crown Estate commissioner.

He replaces former Waitrose managing director David Felwick.