Buy British, Prince tells army
Source: Farmers Weekly 27 December 2002

By Isabel Davies

PRINCE Charles, who has been voted Farm Personality of the Year, has called on the army to buy more British food.

The Prince of Wales said pubic bodies such as hospitals and the Armed Forces should and could buy British.

In an exclusive article for Farmers Weekly, he said such a policy would make an enormous impact on the viability of farmers.

"I have been told that EU tendering rules mean it is impossible to specify the type of food you wish to buy under contracts that are worth over a certain amount," he said.

"However the University of Wales ... has recently completed an excellent piece of work showing there are perfectly legal mechanisms to avoid this."

These mechanisms were employed by other EU countries who understood the value of good-quality home-produced food, he added.

It was a landslide victory for the Prince in this year's Farm Personality competition.

He polled over 58% of the votes cast and left all the other candidates trailing in his wake.

Second was NFU Scotland president Jim Walker, third the chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, Richard Burge.

It was a speech Prince Charles gave during the 2002 Royal Show that won the gratitude of many Farmers Weekly readers.

Echoing comments in that speech, Prince Charles said it was "sheer folly" for the UK not to be relatively self-sufficient in food.

"It is something which I think retailers need to consider as a matter of urgency," he said.

"Continuity and accessibility of supply are of the utmost importance to them with the increased risk from terrorism and instability overseas."

The Prince also stressed the importance of the family farming community, which cared for the land from one generation to another.

During foot-and-mouth many people heard for the first time about hefted flocks and the difficulties of re-establishing them.

Farmers were hefted people, said the Prince.

"They are integral threads in the complex tapestry of rural Britain.

"Unstitch those threads and the ancient tapestry — our precious countryside with all it cultural heritage — will lose its traditional character and the beauty which attracts so many."

Readers who voted for Prince Charles said he had put himself out for the agricultural industry.

"He obviously isn't looking for recognition or reward but genuinely cares for the countryside and the farming future of this country," said Maurice and Sally Gould of Hayne, Devon.

John Beecroft from Shropshire said: "He consistently stands up for farmers and the countryside, in spite of the fact he comes under fire from the media and politicians."