Judging by the last few days, there's a grave danger that many leading business folk will contract serious cases of welly rash as they trek the shires on fact-finding missions during the next few months. But at least they'll be suffering in a good cause. First, we had the Rural Action launch staged by the Prince of Wales, an event which proved, once again, that when it comes to hijacking the UK media machines, there's no sharper operator than the heir to the throne. No spin doctor, however artful, could have conjured up so many column inches and minutes of airtime in the way Prince Charles did. His plea from the heart to the business sector to pay more attention to things rural, and to local sourcing in particular, will be long remembered. The only slightly sour note came when the BBC hauled an academic on to the Six O'Clock News to question some of the tactics the multiples are alleged to have employed in recent times. In truth, the retail grocery sector has not been exactly idle on the rural support front. But if Prince Charles' oration under St James's Palace's gilt-edged portals encourages more activity, then so much the better. But of even wider significance for the food chain was an event as we went to press. At the sector's most important gathering for years, the leader of the NFU, Ben Gill, presented a strategy for UK food and farming to agriculture's partners ­ those who have significant influence on production, processing, retailing and catering. The charismatic farmers' leader is right to include all branches in the chain as he devises the formula for bringing farmers out of crisis. Gill seeks an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable industry, but he cannot achieve that without the full support of his food chain partners. And that puts all the unity talk of recent years into sharp perspective. So whatever the independent commission into food and farming dreams up, the chain got its own initiative off to a promising start on Thursday. Clive Beddall, Editor {{OPINION }}