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18 November 2002
Prince Charles invites heads of Supermarkets to Highgrove to Discuss
Farm Prices and Promotion of Local Farm Products 15/11/02
As reported by Robert Uhlig, Farming Correspondent
of the Telegraph (1), among those invited were
the heads of Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda and senior executives from
Marks & Spencer and from Dalepak (a meat processing firm). Prince
Charles shares the concerns of many over the poor prices paid to
farmers by supermarkets who are reporting ever-increasing profits.
The Prince is also rightly concerned that supermarkets were not
making enough effort to support local farm produce.
A new code of conduct was supposed to prevent
supermarkets using their domination of grocery retailing from driving
down prices. This has not been effective and farmers are often forced
to sell their produce often for less that the cost of production.
Reference to the Agricultural and Horticultural
Census (2) reveals that 15,000 farming jobs were
lost in England in the year to June 2002. Figures for Scotland and
for Wales have yet to be published. According to the census 8,600
farmers abandoned farming and another 6,600 farm workers lost their
This website (3) raised this
matter when commenting on the LEAF conference held at Battleby,
Perthshire (29/09/02) at which supermarket executive Gavin Bailey
gave a paper.
Gavin Bailey of Safeways tried to present the caring and
ethical face of supermarkets. He did not appear to have an answer
as to the ethics of why they do not insist that their suppliers
pay the primary producer something more (rather than less) than
the cost of production. Supermarkets insist on all sorts of standards
of animal welfare and how tractors are maintained etc, but apparently
not for ensuring that the primary producer can earn a living wage.
All sorts of political correctness and other bureaucratic nonsense
always seems to get in the way and is beyond their talents to
It is hoped that the same point was put to the
collective big guns of supermarkets by Prince Charles. Prince Charles'
interest and support for farmers is very much appreciated.
1. Uhlig, R (2002). Prince's farm
price talks. telegraph.co.uk, 16 November 2002. (Visit
2. Agricultural and Horticultural
Census. 5 JUNE 2002. England. (Download
3. Prof Trewavas and other speakers
at LEAF Conference 26 September, Battleby, Perthshire. Land-Care.