28 May 1999

Royal backs family way

PRINCE Charles has spoken up for small family farmers and the contribution they make to the life of the nation.

Writing in the current edition of The Duchy Review, an annual report on Duchy of Cornwall activities, he recalls how by staying and working on Duchy farms he learned "about the strong and enduring rural culture which has developed over many generations and which underpins so much of life in the countryside".

He also learned about the need for balance between economic, social and environmental aspects.

Today, he says, he is even more convinced of the need for continuity of management.

"I am convinced that the pursuit of genuinely sustainable developments in our countryside ought to include supporting, as a priority, those people who run small, family farms in the wilder and more remote parts of the country.

"They provide food of the highest quality and are the backbone of what is left of rural culture. They are also the most effective stewards of the land and the landscape through practising agri-culture not agri-industry. The contribution they make to the life of this nation is, as far as I am concerned, hugely undervalued and their loss would be quite simply a national tragedy." &#42