26 November 2001
Princess Royal slams food ‘hypocrisy’

By Adrienne Francis

THE Princess Royal has accused supermarkets of hypocrisy, and questioned whether customers are willing to support farming.

“Customers and supermarkets are not always right, and if they want standards applied to the UK, they need to do the same with imports as well.

“Hypocrisy is not too strong a word to apply,” she told Plymouth Universitys 17th Annual Farm Management Lecture at Seale Hayne, Devon.

The Princess, who is Master of the Worshipful Company of Farmers, said that food prices favoured urban consumers rather than farmers.

“They cannot have cheap food because it does not come cheap,” she said.

“The cost is too high for land use in general and the long-term future of farming in particular.”

Princess Anne said the most worrying feature of the changes to agriculture in the last 25 years was that farming may have become an “optional extra”.

She said farming shouldnt be seen as an industry.

“We need to broaden our vision of what landowners are involved in to agricultural land use.

Princess Anne said the effect of government regulations on emerging rural leaders was also a cause for concern.

“The weight of regulation we have is in danger of prohibiting many people taking leadership roles.

“It seems to me to be extremely odd.

“We suffer from regulation in such a way that, as professionals, it implies that they are not qualified in the areas they are specifically qualified in.

“The inpact of BSE and the foot-and-mouth crisis in quick succession have highlighted the challenge for UK agriculture.”