Prince Charles has praised the efforts of British farmers to feed the nation during the coronavirus pandemic.
The crisis shows that food “does not happen by magic” – and growers and livestock producers should not be taken for granted, said the prince.
Farmers have been at the forefront of feeding the nation during the pandemic, including starting food box schemes and delivering supplies to local residents.
But some producers have been left without a market – with dairy farmers forced to dump milk due to turmoil in the supply chain.
At the same time, potato growers have been left with thousands of tonnes of the crop languishing in storage because of the closure of fish and chip shop.
The prince – who is a long-term supporter of UK agriculture – said the nation owed a “debt of gratitude” to farmers and others who work in the food supply chain.
“What this national crisis has also brought home — dare I say it — is how much we rely on our agricultural community and all those in the food supply chain, from field to fork,” he said in an interview for Country Life magazine.
“The retailers have been doing an outstanding job responding to the unprecedented pressures, and so has the entire supply chain.
“The delivery drivers, shelf-stackers and all the others serving shoppers are providing an immensely important service in this time of great need.
“Of course, it all begins with our farmers.
“When was the last time anyone gave the availability of a bottle of milk, or a loaf of bread, or fresh vegetables a second thought?”
Suddenly, all these things had become precious and valued, said the prince – and this is how it always should be.
“Food does not happen by magic,” he said. “If the past few weeks have proved anything, it is that we cannot take it for granted.”
In this country, there are 80,000 farmers producing our food. These include upland farmers in Cumbria and the Welsh mountains, the arable and vegetable lands of East Anglia, the dairy fields of Cornwall and Northern Ireland, and the orchards of Kent.
“Day in and day out, they are working to produce food — for us. And we owe them an enormous debt of gratitude. But they cannot do it alone.”
Urging the public to help out, Prince Charles said people needed to “rediscover that great movement” of the Second World War — the Land Army.
People should support the government’s Pick for Britain campaign and apply for jobs to help out during this year’s harvest.
“The need is huge and, in some cases, urgent, as the spring vegetables are ready for picking.”
Farmers Weekly is getting behind the #FeedtheNation campaign to back UK farmers working flat out to produce safe, affordable and reliable food to feed the nation during the coronavirus crisis.
With our partners, we are raising public awareness of this campaign by highlighting the actions farmers are taking to get food to consumers.