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Rural life celebrated as South of England Show opens

The Duchess of Cornwall was the guest of honour

The Duchess of Cornwall was the guest of honour today at the South of England Show at Ardingly in Sussex.

The royal even took time out of her schedule to 'knight' one of the visitors - the actor Callum Arnott. In the absence of a sword, a Sussex-grown leek was used to mark the occasion.

Actor 'knighted with a leek' - a moment of fun during the tour of Ardingly's South of England Show

The three-day event is celebrating its 50th year at the Ardingly showground and though the skies were heavy and grey, the rain held off, and the crowds turned up. Derek Johnson reports

Duchess visits South of England Show at Ardingly

The Duchess of Cornwall visits the Plumpton College area at Ardingly

The South of England Show has begun with a special visit from Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. The Duchess is the president of The South of England Agricultural Society. This year marks the charity's 50th year of supporting agriculture and the countryside.

The Duchess of Cornwall takes a tour of the displays

The show at the 150 acre South of England Showground near the village of Ardingly in West Sussex lasts for three days and celebrates the best in agriculture and rural life in the region.

Her Royal Highness has chosen Brooke to be the Society's charity for this year. Brooke is an international animal welfare charity dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules. The Duchess of Cornwall became Brooke's first President in 2006.

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It's here - the Royal County of Berkshire Show

The Royal County of Berkshire Show takes place over the weekend at the Newbury Showground.

There will be two thousand animals, on a 150 acre site - in an event that attracts more than 60,000 visitors. ITV Meridian spoke to Darren Bowyer from the Newbury and District Agricultural Society as the final preparations were being made.

Minister promotes UK dairy exports at Oxfordshire farm

Farming Minister visits organic farm in Oxfordshire

Farming Minister, George Eustice has been visiting an organic dairy farm in Oxfordshire which exports cream, milk and cheese.

Step Farm in Faringdon plans to increase its business by 75%. The site is part of a dairy co-operative which exported 40m litres of milk, cheese and cream to European and American markets last year.

The farm belongs to OMSCo (Organic Milk Suppliers' Co-operative) farms, which recently launched Kingdom Cheese, the first European cheese to be certified by the US Department of Agriculture to be sold in the USA.

The Government is working with industry to boost the UK's food and drink exports. The sector is already worth £97 billion a year to the economy.

How will farm floods affect our weekly shop?

Last year's record rainfall destroyed millions of pounds worth of crops on our farms. There are fears that this year's harvests could also be severely reduced, triggering food price rises.

The Met Office says we could be facing ten years of increasing rainfall. Fred spoke to Richard Dodd from the British Retail Consortium earlier - and asked him how all this will affect our weekly shop.

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  1. John Ryall

Food price alert after rains

There are warnings that we will all have to pay a little more for our food at supermarkets over the coming year because of last year's heavy rainfall.

The bad weather had a severe impact on farming with the rain destroying millions of pounds of crops in the South-east alone, leaving behind fears that this year's _harvests could be largely reduced, triggering shortages of some foods.

Farmers are being warned that they need to develop new growing methods - or face the problems, financial and otherwise that could follow more bad weather. John Ryall reports.

Flood risks: The latest

Environment secretary Owen Paterson says the government will be looking at the long term impact of flooding on agricultural land in areas in the South.

Recent figures show 2012 was the wettest year on record in England.

General view of a road closed due to flooding sign in Sonning in Berkshire, in December. Credit: PA Images

The Environment Agency is still monitoring the River Thames around Oxfordshire as a result of recent heavy rain and the Lower Avon in Hampshire has been at risk of flooding since July.

Dorset and Sussex are other areas that have been affected.

Farmers say price of milk is ruining them

Farmers from the south are staging a mass demonstration in London tomorrow - and threatening to with hold milk supplies. They've been hit by the 'triple whammy' - supermarket price wars - low bulk prices and increased production costs.

One farmer says it now makes more sense to pour his milk down the drain than to sell it for zero profit. Click below for David Johns full report

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