If your livelihood centers around agriculture, you probably believe you are pretty fortunate. There’s that lifestyle thing, which many farmers and ranchers mention as one of the top reasons they keep plugging away despite the increasing challenges of the vocation. And you may count yourself as fortunate because so many other farms have simply disappeared over the past couple of decades.
If you’re making ends meet in agriculture, so much the better, because, well, farming is really not that difficult. In fact, agriculture, even on a global scale, is pretty simple, or so some would have the world believe.
This week we can add Prince Charles to the list of those who have convinced themselves that there’s nothing wrong with agriculture that turning the clock back about a half century wouldn’t solve. On a visit to Washington, D.C. last week (home of one of the world’s most famous organic gardens), the Prince of Wales “spoke passionately about organic and sustainable farming” to Georgetown University students.
In his speech at the Future of Food Conference, Prince Charles criticized U.S. government subsidies for large-scale agriculture and encouraged more government and business support for organic and environmentally-friendly food production.
Charles said rising hunger and obesity problems around the world are an “increasingly insane picture” and proposed that production agriculture use fewer chemical pesticides, artificial fertilizers and antibiotics. He also criticized industrial pollution and global dependence on oil.
Because Prince Charles is, well, Prince Charles, everything he does and everything he says makes news. Granted, much of Charles’ actions a decade or more ago was more fodder for the tabloids than the business pages, but his actions remain highly influential on a global scale. That’s why it’s disappointing to learn that he has decided to promote arguable — if not questionable — theories about modern agriculture.
To be fair, Prince Charles is, among many things, a farmer. That’s right. In 1986, the Prince decided to convert the Duchy Home Farm to a “completely organic system to demonstrate the environmental and commercial benefits.”
According to information on Home Farm’s website, “Home Farm is not only a successful and viable working farm, but is a flagship for the benefits of an organic, sustainable form of agriculture.”
Now, I’ve met a good many farmers in my time, but Prince Charles just doesn’t strike me as one who would fit into that crowd. When you visit with a farmer or rancher, a good gauge of his or her knowledge is often the mud on their boots and the calluses on their hands, not the silk in their tie. I could be wrong, but it’s hard for me to visualize the Prince of Wales with sweat on his brow and dirt under his fingernails.