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Saturday, 20 July, 2002, 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK
Peer attacks Prince's organic ideals
Prince Charles with a breeder
The Prince is a great supporter of all things rural
Prince Charles' summer tour of Wales has been overshadowed by criticism of his support for organic farming.

A senior Labour peer has accused him of believing that everyone should live in a "feudal society" where they payed more for food.


Too many people in the countryside look backwards and not forwards, and the heir to the throne is a prime example of that

Lord Haskins

The criticism came from Lord Haskins, who was appointed by Prime Minister Tony Blair as the rural recovery co-ordinator in the aftermath of the foot-and-mouth disaster.

He said Prince Charles belonged to that group of farmers who "look backwards and not forwards".

And he added that the organically-grown food, advocated by the Prince, was too expensive for most people.

He told the first Labour Party rural conference, at Harper Adams University College, Shropshire, that many organic farmers were suffering as a result of production costs and could not compete in the marketplace.

Organic carrots
Organic crops grow at the Prince's estate

"Too many people in the countryside look backwards and not forwards. The heir to the throne is a prime example of that, believing we should live in a feudal society and we should all pay more for our food," he said.

"Many farmers are still digging for victory and need to be told that the war is 60 years over."

Lord Haskins added later that the cost of producing organic food was very high.

"It has to be expensive because organic wheat is 200 per ton and conventional wheat is 70 per ton," he explained.

"Hungry people"

"I'm not saying organic farmers are making too much money, but when the Prince of Wales says food is too cheap he's saying he wants everyone (farmers) to pay 200 per ton (for wheat).

"If everyone pays 200 there are going to be a lot of very hungry people."

Prince Charles has an organic garden at his Highgrove, Gloucestershire home and his Duchy of Cornwall organic biscuits are sold in supermarkets nationwide.

"There's scope for organic food but you have to be quite well-off to do it," the peer said.

Camilla Parker Bowles
Camilla Parker Bowles: Accompanying the prince to Wales

"If all the farmers went organic they'd go bust because the production costs are so high."

Prince Charles has been continuing his summer tour of Wales, visiting a scheme to help the over-50s set up their own businesses.

The Prince, president and founder of PRIME Cymru, met people who have helped establish the scheme in the historic market town of Ruthin.

The scheme is a variation on the highly successful Prince's Trust, which provides grant aid and support for young entrepreneurs.

Supporters

Opening and closing his speech in Welsh, the Prince said he was "thrilled and delighted" to see the scheme working.

So far, more than 100 businesses have joined in with the scheme.

"This all stemmed when I found myself receiving more and more letters from people over 50 who wrote to me asking if there was anything that I could do to help people who had become redundant or found they had to take early retirement," he said.

"I am pleased so many entrepreneurs can make a significant contribution to the economy of Wales and the revival of the country, which needs a boost after the devastating effects of foot-and-mouth."

Stately home

His next stop was at one of the National Trust's most prestigious properties.

As vice-president of the Trust he will meet staff at the stately home Erddig Hall, Wrexham, one of the area's best-loved tourist attractions.

It has been 25 years since the Prince's last visit, when he officially opened the house and gardens to the public following a major four-year restoration programme by the National Trust.

The estate welcomes 80,000 visitors each year, and its walled garden is one of the most important surviving 18th century gardens in Britain.

Later in the day, the Prince witnessed a groundbreaking conservation project taking shape.

He met members of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and staff of Severn Trent Water, who have joined forces to protect the environment around Lake Vyrnwy in Powys.

See also:

07 Jul 02 | Wales
21 Jul 00 | Wales
19 Jul 02 | Wales
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