Having written here myself about the Prince of Wales' admirable Home Farm, I am delighted to find this take, from a woman who seems to know her eggs from her offal. Rachel Laudan's blog is dubbed A Historian's Take on Food and Food Politics.
"Prince Charles inherited 135,000 acres, much of it excellent land in the south and west of England. His manager farms the Home Farm, the organic bit, 1000 acres where he in time-honored tradition raises rare breeds.
His tenants are not required to farm organically, without doubt use as much of the latest agricultural technology as they can afford, and accept farm subsidies. His estate agent Smiths Gore I presume collect the rents and handle the accounts.
Like corporate agribusiness, Prince Charles has integrated vertically by producing a line of food products, Duchy Products. These he sells not in farmers’ markets but through the large grocery chain, Waitrose. (True, they pay some royalties into his charity, but that is in trouble at the moment, having to bail out some land investments made by the Prince). He advertises these industrially-produced foodstuffs by appeal to tradition (a technique pioneered by big wine in late nineteenth-century France).
In 2008, rents from tenant farmers (and presumably from sources such as The Oval cricket ground and holiday rentals in the Scilly Isles) provided him and his family with an income of $26.4 million.
So when I read rave reviews of Prince Charles at the Future of Food conferencegoing on in Washington, D.C., I have to wonder.
Is Prince Charles’ decision to farm 1/135th of his land organically really so compelling? How can his admirers, most of whom I suspect, distrust agribusiness (and by any standards, Charles’ landholdings have more in common with large corporate landholdings than small family farms), overlook the scale of his operation?
Because of a sneaking deference to royalty? Because he claims as his own, standard British agricultural practice, such as dung spreading?
Whatever the reason, I find the deference amazing. Prince Charles is, in my view, agribusiness personified."