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The BBC's Paul Reynolds reports
"A traditional, rather old fashioned and certainly restrained welcome"
 real 56k

Friday, 27 April, 2001, 12:40 GMT 13:40 UK
Charles in row over 'insult' to farmers
Grand Chief Howard Anderson and Prince Charles
Grand Chief Howard Anderson at a welcoming ceremony for the Prince
Prince Charles has sparked a row in Britain following an attack on modern farming methods during his tour of Canada.

Farming worldwide is "in real crisis" and it was time to "take stock of the long-term consequences of industrialised farming" the prince said.

Ben Gill
Ben Gill says farming will change
But his words, which come as British farmers continue to struggle with the foot-and-mouth crisis, have infuriated leaders of the UK's National Farmers' Union (NFU).

The Royal remarks were "insulting" said NFU president Ben Gill.

It was a "myth" that industrialised practices were to blame for the foot-and-mouth outbreak, he told BBC News Online.

The theory was not borne out by the fact that the disease was most prevalent in poorer countries, he said.

"These myths have to be removed. We have to have a proper debate, not one based on simple jingoism."

We neglect the delicate balance of the rural community and the need for harmony within the workings of nature at our peril

Prince Charles
However, Mr Gill predicted that farming would be transformed by the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

It needs to become more market-orientated and could play a role in environmental management, he said.

The prince, himself an organic farmer, was speaking to the provincial government of Saskatchewan, a province known for its farming and a big grower of GM crops.

He called on farmers to work in "harmony" with nature and to consider the benefits of "true sustainability".

"We need to remember the underlying importance of an awareness of the workings of nature, the rhythms of the seasons, the health of the soil, the crops and the welfare of livestock.

"We neglect the delicate balance of the rural community and the need for harmony within the workings of nature at our peril."

Lieutenant Governor Lynda Haverstock with Prince Charles
Lieutenant Governor Lynda Haverstock arrives at the Saskatchewan legislature
Earlier this week Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail warned the prince he faced a "hard sell" from the farming community.

In an editorial, it said: "If Charles has a chance to talk to farmers, he will find them fixedly bottom-line oriented."

The prince, who has been asked not to visit Canadian farmland as a precaution against the spread of foot-and-mouth, has also written an article for this paper stressing the importance of the rural community.

'Countryside custodians'

"We have to ensure that the farmer, who has always brought meat and drink to our table, is able to continue his duty as provider and, equally importantly, as custodian of the countryside."

He added that the "extended farming crises" across the Western world were partly due to a belief that the quality of food could be divorced from the well-being of the natural surroundings.

"That is not my belief, which is why sustainable agriculture has been something of a preoccupation of mine for many years, and why I have tried to make my own small contribution by converting the farming operations at my home at Highgrove to an organic system."

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