5 July 2002

Prince urges change to ensure farmings future

By Jonathan Riley

PRINCE Charles has warned that people are becoming frighteningly detached from the farmers who produce their food.

"It is utterly incredible to me that farming – the basic industry of mankind – can be in such a state of crisis," he said.

The Prince of Wales was speaking as he officially opened this years Royal Show in Warks on Monday (July 1).

"The consumer needs to be made more aware that the seemingly endless desire for convenience and the lowest possible price has a direct impact on the producer, the countryside and animal welfare."

Prince Charles said retailers, processors, caterers, the government and the public all had an important role to play in helping food producers.

"Farmers are simply not earning a reasonable margin on what they produce and are living on their savings."

The Prince warned that Britains ability to feed itself in times of crisis must not be jeopardised. "The line between too much food and too little is very thin indeed," he said.

"This country must retain the ability to grow its own food. Situations can change in the world unexpectedly and there could easily come a day when the UK might be reduced to relying on its resources once again."

But agriculture, too, had to change, said Prince Charles, who backed the findings of the policy commission on the future of farming and food.

The commissions report recognised that people no longer accepted the current system of subsidies and that there should be a move away from production support.

The idea is not to turn farmers into nothing more than glorified park keepers nor remove much-needed income support.

The proposal is to shift that support gradually to encourage a different sort of farming.

This shift must surely be the right way forward to ensure a reasonable livelihood for our farmers.

"We have to encourage new priorities to help farmers and add value to their products by focusing on quality and differentiation rather than the pursuit of quantity," said Prince Charles. &#42

Prince Charles called for more awareness of farmings plight.