27 September 1996

…but gloomy views not recognised by leaders

PRINCE Charles delivered a gloomy view of British agriculture which would not be recognised by most farmers, say industry leaders.

The NFU said the prince was adding to the ongoing debate on the future of agriculture, but sustained his vision of the future by attacking the present.

"He took a somewhat gloomy view by outlining a situation which we believe would not be recognisable to most farmers, who take a great pride in their work," said an NFU spokesperson.

Sir Colin Spedding, chairman of the Farm Animal Welfare Council, said he believed the Prince Charles was articulating the fears of many people. But there was nothing in his speech to reassure themthat those concerns were beingtaken seriously by the industry.

"While it is fair to highlight that there are concerns, I would like to see the other side also put – that things are being done, it is not all gloom. And in terms of animal welfare a great deal is being done by the industry to correct matters," said Prof Spedding.

"I do not think it is true that most farmers treat their animals as machines to be exploited for profit," he added. "I cannot think of any farmer that takes that view."

Richard Trow-Smith, British Agrochemicals Association spokes-man said he also shared the view that Prince Charles was unduly pessimistic.

Industry had been working over the past 10 years or more to tackle some of the points raised.