Prince Charles tells of fears for future of rural life
The Prince of Wales has spoken of his concerns for farming communities in a special edition of a flagship rural affairs programme.
Prince Charles, a high-profile champion of organic farming, highlighted some of the problems facing many farming communities such as those in the Westcountry.
The Prince, who guest-edited the 25th anniversary edition of BBC One's Countryfile, broadcast last night, said smaller family farms faced "enormous" challenges of uncertain sources of income and livestock diseases.
"I worry about the way things change all the time and sources of income are more uncertain," he told the programme. "The challenges are enormous, particularly the shortage of feed.
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"There are diseases of every kind, whether it's Schmallenberg, TB and goodness knows what else – afflicting the farming community. And that's why it's important to have a means of helping to support very hard-working people."
In 2010 the Prince of Wales set up the Prince's Countryside Fund which raises money to support countryside communities. Last night's programme featured his own organic farm in Gloucestershire, where he spoke about his favourite countryside activities of walking and building hedges.
He said: "Walking is a terribly important thing for me. Rather like some people need a cigarette, I need a walk."
Speaking of his passion for hedge-building, he added: "I love it. I tell you why, because it's terrific exercise and at the same time it's a sort of hobby or interest to see if you can get better at doing it.
"When you first lay a hedge, if you do it well, it looks so marvellous and then the fun is to see three or four years later, it looks like a hedge that's always been there."
The soon-to-be grandfather told Countryfile presenters Julia Bradbury and Matt Baker it was vital to "work in harmony with nature" for the benefit of future generations.
He said: "We need to think about what kind of world we're handing on to our successors, particularly grandchildren.
"If you think of it in those terms, it should make us reflect a little bit about the way we do things so we don't ruin it for them.
"That's why it's so important I think to work in harmony with nature rather than thinking somehow we can ignore, dominate, separate ourselves from nature."
He added: "Unless we take trouble and nurture, pay our respect and reverence to nature, she's a great deal more powerful than we are."
During the programme the 64-year-old was asked by Julia Bradbury whether the prospect of becoming a grandfather made him feel old.
He replied: "Of course it does to a certain degree because you can't believe that suddenly that is beginning to happen in your life."
"It's a lovely thought and I've looked forward enormously to that relationship with a grandchild."
The Duke of Cornwall also visited a South London school where he learned about an initiative to get pupils to take an interest in agriculture by growing vegetables.
He also spoke about his passion for wool and his role as patron of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
Last month the Duke and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, came to Devon to visit the flood-hit village of Braunton.