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Wednesday, October 13, 1999 Published at 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK


UK: Scotland

Charles: 'No doubts about British beef'

Prince Charles was at the centre of a row over beef on the bone

Prince Charles used a speech to farmers in Scotland to deliver his strongest defence yet of British beef.

He said he was assured of its quality and was in "no doubt" that the highest levels of standards were now in force.

Speaking with a heavy cold, the Prince told the Edinburgh gathering: "I do know about the quality of Scottish beef.


The BBC's Jennie Bond:"His support is a boost for the beef industry"
"I hope that today everyone will help to rebuild consumer confidence to assure the long-term future of Scottish farmers."

He added: "The list of regulations that are in force are impressive. And they leave no one in doubt that the highest levels of quality control to meet the standards put down by the EU are now in place."

The Prince, who has made his views known on the matter in the past, stopped just short of criticising the decision of the French and German governments to maintain the ban on British beef - contrary to new EU rulings.

Crisis point

He did tell farmers he was acutely aware of the difficulties they face, saying they were suffering the worst crisis in the industry in living memory.

And the Prince of Wales expressed his sympathy for them at the meeting on Wednesday.

He added: "When I went to Wales a few weeks ago I met farmers who told me the awful difficulties they are facing. I had similar discussions today.

"This is the worst time the farming community has ever encountered. Individually it is small upland farms who are faring worse of all.


BBC Scotland's Morag Kinniburgh reports
"Scotland has a beautiful countryside and that does not happen by chance - it is maintained by the farmers who tend for it."

Prince Charles said he welcomed the opportunity to meet Scottish farmers in person and also the recent package of measures introduced to help them, along with the lifting of the ban on beef exports.

He said it could leave no-one in any doubt that the standards of quality of control which are expected by the European Union had been passed.

The Prince told the farmers he himself farmed Aberdeen Angus cattle and was aware of the high quality of beef produced in Scotland.

'Very supportive'

The Prince was at Edinburgh's Royal Highland showground to see at first hand the efforts being made by the Meat and Livestock Commission in education.

MLC chairman Don Curry said: "Prince Charles has been very supportive of the livestock industry not just in Scotland but in the whole of Great Britain.

"We are very grateful to him in highlighting the problems the industry is facing."

Earlier the Prince met representatives from Scotland's farming industry.

Pig farmer Andrew Peddie, 41, from Anstruther, Fife, said: "I was talking to him about the pig industry and he shared his concerns that our industry has gone down the wealthier route but is being undermined by cheap imports that do not meet the same standards.

"I told him that 20% of the Scottish pig industry had been lost in the last 18 months. He was very sympathetic."



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