Prince Charles blames supermarkets for farmers' financial plight
Prince Charles has accused the big supermarkets and their shareholders of profiting from the UK's farmers while taking on "none of the risk" of dealing with the roller-coaster economics of food production.
In his latest forthright intervention on issues of public debate from architecture to homeopathy, the heir to the throne has highlighted the iniquities faced by farmers who deal with dramatically fluctuating incomes while retailers reap profits from their squeezed suppliers.
The Prince, who has previously been outspoken on threats to the countryside and is himself a substantial landowner through the Duchy of Cornwall, takes up the cudgels against the supermarkets in an edition of Country Life magazine which he guest-edited.
He said producers were, in effect, being "penalised" for choosing their way of life, adding: "Small farmers find themselves in the iniquitous position of taking the biggest risk, often acting as the buffer from the retailer against all the economic uncertainties of producing food, but receiving the least return.
"It cannot be right that a typical hill farmer earns just £12,600, with some surviving on as little as £8,000 a year, whilst the big retailers do so much better, having taken none of the risk."
Among the most adept agricultural managers is the Prince himself. The Duchy of Cornwall last year increased the income from £7m to £7.3m as part of an overall surplus of £19.1m paid to him to fund his lifestyle and that of dependents, including his sons.