ROYAL VISIT: Prince Charles attends farming summit at Chatsworth

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His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has attended a crisis summit of key figures in the farming and rural sector as part of his visit to Derbyshire today.

Held at Chatsworth House, the summit was chaired by Lord Curry of Kirkharle, Trustee of the Prince’s Countryside Fund, and had been organised to address the charity’s fears that many UK farm businesses are on the brink of collapse.

As well as Prince Charles, the event was also attended by Defra Minister George Eustice MP and key figures from the sector including farming help charities, the banking industry and landowner associations.

Lord Curry said: “Britain’s farmers are facing a perfect storm this winter. The depression in prices across the main agricultural sectors has been unprecedented in recent years. The volatility in milk prices alone has held the news agenda for months. British lamb and beef prices have been hit by weak export trade and domestic demand. The fact that all commodity prices are so seriously compressed at the same time is almost unparalleled.

“The security and diversity of British food production is too important an issue to disregard. It’s vital that farmers facing adversity feel able to ask for help to access the advice and support that will see them through challenging times and help make their farm businesses resilient to market forces. All too often farmers struggle in isolation.”

The Prince’s Countryside Fund, founded by The Prince of Wales, was set up in 2010 to support Britain’s hard pressed rural areas.

Claire Saunders, Director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund, said: “The role of The Prince’s Countryside Fund, now more than ever, is to help ensure the sustainability of British agriculture and our wider rural communities.

“This is why our Patron HRH The Prince of Wales will be announcing essential research commissioned by the Fund into the consequences of failing to support a diverse farming sector. The legacy of today’s summit will be to foster greater collaboration and communication between key players in the agriculture sector. By fostering a greater understanding of the challenges facing farming we will go some way to help to solve them.

“Through the work of the Farming Help Partnership, the projects we support and our emergency fund there is valuable and much needed help for farm businesses. With the steadfast support of the wider sector, we can collectively commit to help secure a brighter future for British farming.”