Prince Charles criticizes govt farm subsidies

AP News
Posted: May 04, 2011 8:38 PM
Prince Charles criticizes govt farm subsidies

Prince Charles, a proponent of environmentally friendly farming, met Wednesday with President Barack Obama and praised first lady Michelle Obama's campaign to combat childhood obesity and hunger along with U.S. manufacturers' efforts to produce healthier foods.

"You cannot help but feel hopeful when such huge corporations like Wal-Mart back local sourcing of food and decide to stock their shelves with sustainable or organic produce," Charles said earlier during a speech at Georgetown University. "Industry is clearly listening."

The heir to Britain's throne is a firm supporter of environmentalist causes and runs an organic farm on his Highgrove estate in western England. He has a line of organic foods, Duchy Originals, which donates profits to his charities.

At the White House, Obama welcomed the prince's decades of work on environmental issues, including halting deforestation, and encouraging production of sustainable food, press secretary Jay Carney said.

Obama also thanked Charles for the contributions of British forces to the wars in Afghanistan and Libya, and congratulated him on son William's wedding, offering his best wishes to the newlyweds, Carney said.

Obama has scheduled a state visit to England later this month, his first to a European country. The visit includes a ceremonial welcome, a banquet and a stay at Buckingham Palace.

Charles was on a three-day visit to Washington. On Tuesday, he visited the Supreme Court and a small urban farm that grows produce for low-income residents. After greeting students at Georgetown University on Wednesday, he spoke passionately about organic and sustainable farming for almost an hour.

Charles criticized government subsidies for large-scale agriculture and encouraged more government and business support for organic and environmentally friendly food production. The United States spends tens of billions of dollars a year on such subsidies.

The prince called rising hunger and obesity problems around the world an "increasingly insane picture" and proposed less use of chemical pesticides, artificial fertilizers and antibiotics. He criticized industrial pollution and global dependence on oil.

"The point, surely, is to achieve a situation where the production of healthier food is rewarded and becomes more affordable and that the earth's capital is not so eroded," he said.

Charles made only a brief reference to the worldwide hubbub over his son's wedding last week. He called his remarks about organic farming "a change from making embarrassing speeches about my eldest son during wedding receptions."