New Year Honours recognise farming

The scientist advising government ministers on a badger cull to combat bovine tuberculosis has received a knighthood in the New Year Honours.

DEFRA chief scientific adviser Bob Watson becomes a Knights Bachelor.

Professor Watson is ultimately responsible for the broad range of science that falls under the department’s remit, including issues such as bovine TB.

Earlier this year, he brought together scientific experts ahead of the government’s decision to press ahead with a badger cull against the disease.

Prof Watson’s role also supports the government’s scientific work on minimising the effects of climate change and improving sustainability.

Top scientist at Defra since 2007, Prof Watson was previously at the World Bank where he was chief scientist and senior advisor for sustainable development.

Professor Watson has held senior positions at NASA and at the White House, where he was responsible for ensuring science underpinned policy-making.

The New Year Honours list also recognised Somerset farmer Mary Mead, co-founder of Yeo Valley Organics.

Mrs Mead, who also owns Holt Farms Ltd, was made an OBE for services to sustainable dairy farming.

A big success story, Yeo Valley is a business that has grown from a family farm to one with a turnover in excess of £200m.

Mrs Mead founded the business with her late husband Roger.

The couple began making yogurt from their dairy herd in 1974, selling it from the farm gate and to local shops.

Production of organic yogurt was started in 1993, as local farmers who were producing organic milk had difficulty finding a consistent demand for it.

The company has since won two Queen’s awards for enterprise.

Last year, it hit the headlines with a £5m TV advertising campaign featuring the Yeo Valley Rap, screened in commercial breaks during the X Factor.

Other New Year Honours include an OBE for Devon farmer John Lee, of Crediton, for services to the rural economy.

Martin Douglas, general manager Cargill UK, becomes an OBE for services to industry in the north-west.

Malcolm Thomas, former director of NFU Cymru, becomes an MBE for services to agriculture in Wales.

Malcolm Wharton, principal of Hartpury College, Gloucestershire, becomes an MBE for services to further education.

Fenland farmer’s son and boxing sensation Dave ‘Boy’ Green becomes an MBE for his charitable services, particularly in Cambridgeshire.