Held at:

National Archives


MAF 80/1101


Original documents


Digital Archive: Minutes of the Dore District Agricultural Committee

Place name:

Ewyas Lacy, Golden Valley


1948 - 1956


When the Second World War began in September 1939, Britain was faced with an urgent need to increase food production, as imports of food and fertilisers were drastically cut. The area of land under cultivation had to be increased significantly and quickly. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries set up War Agricultural Executive Committees in each county (‘County War Ags’) to bring uncultivated land under the plough and to improve poor farms.

The Committees were given powers by the Cultivation of Lands Order 1939 (SR & O 1939, no. 1078) and subsequent orders that were drawn in very wide and general terms. These enabled them to take all measures they considered appropriate to ensure that the land in their area of responsibility was cultivated to the best advantage, if necessary regardless of the wishes of the owners or tenants of the farms concerned.

Under these powers the committees appointed many sub-committees, each of which was entrusted with a definite sphere of responsibility. This relieved the executive committees of the detailed work of carrying the programme into effect. Thus they were left free to consider overall policy matters while carrying out general supervision of the various sub-committees. The Cultivation of Lands Order did however provide that proposals to take possession or to terminate the tenancy of any land other than by agreement required the minister's prior approval in writing.

In order that the work under the regulations and the minister's order could be carried out in the most efficient manner the counties were divided into convenient districts and district committees were established, without executive powers, to serve as the eyes and ears of the executive and sub-committees in regard to all matters of food production.

After the war, part V of the Agriculture Act 1947 provided for the establishment of County Agricultural Executive Committees for each administrative county, establishing the existing committees on a permanent basis, to concern themselves with the promotion of agricultural development and efficiency. As with the War Agricultural Executive Committees, the County Agricultural Executive Committees used sub-committees to deal with different aspects of the work. District committees were also retained to give leadership in their areas on the general development of agriculture and horticulture. The act allowed the minister to delegate any of his functions relating to agriculture to the committees, and from 1947 the committees' staff became civil servants employed directly by the ministry. This framework of control and regulation continued until County Agricultural Executive Committees were abolished in 1971.

The proceedings of the Dore District Committee covering large parts of Ewyas Lacy and the Golden Valley, whose minutes are presented below, may be considered representative of the issues facing the agricultural sector in the post-war period and the ways they were dealt with. They also include schedules listing the gradings awarded to all the local farms in the year 1952 as an official measure of their quality and efficiency.


We are grateful to David Lovelace for permission to publish the collection of photographs he has taken of the original documents held in the National Archives. Taken altogether, these extracts are a unique resource providing a detailed insight not only into the workings of the farming industry in Ewyas Lacy and the Golden Valley, the post-war issues facing the local farming community and the ways they were addressed and managed, but also into the social history of the area at the time.




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