The Prince of Wales has spoken out in support of British pig farmers who claim they are on the verge of going out of business.

Prince Charles urged consumers to support the sector in a statement read out on his behalf at the annual Pig and Poultry Fair at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire.

The statement said: "I particularly want to take this opportunity to express my deep concern for the pig sector which, I know, is going through an immensely difficult time as a result of the huge rise in feed costs.

"There is a growing awareness of the problem and those retailers who are raising their prices should be congratulated.

"However, little, if any, of the increase is being passed down the chain to the farmer and, unless urgent action is taken, this country's pig sector, which has never received subsidies, could be decimated.

"This would be a tragedy for this country, which produces some of the finest quality pigs and which operates according to the highest standards of husbandry and animal welfare - for instance, 40 per cent of British pigs are reared outdoors, something unique in Europe.

"I can only urge consumers to do everything they can to support British pig farmers by buying pork, bacon, ham and sausages which bear the Quality Standard Mark, or which are clearly organic or free-range pigs raised by British breeders."

The rising cost of wheat and soya has led to feed prices doubling over the past year, according to farmers' groups.

Pig farmers say they are losing about £20 on every pig raised, with many claiming they will go out of business unless they receive higher prices.

Stewart Houston, chairman of the British Pig Executive, which has been running a campaign for fairer prices for farmers, said: "On behalf of all British pig farmers, I would like to thank the Prince of Wales for his support.

"Retail prices have risen but nowhere near enough of this increase has reached farmers. If this does not happen soon then many pig farmers face the prospect of going out of business.

"Then consumers will lose the choice to buy higher welfare Quality Standard Mark pork, bacon and ham. It is also likely to mean shortages in the long term and much higher prices. But this can be avoided if farmers receive a fair price now."

The Prince of Wales was in Solihull on Tuesday when he praised Land Rover for its global presence and its work to combat climate change.

Prince Charles was at the company's plant to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the marque before going on to meet staff and patients at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine in Birmingham.

He marked the Land Rover anniversary with a two-hour visit of the Lode Lane plant, where he was presented with a £25,000 Land Rover County Station Wagon and cut a sponge birthday cake baked in the shape of the first ever Land Rover - a Series 1 model.

After his Land Rover visit, the prince's next stop was the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM) at Selly Oak Hospital.

There he met military and civilian medical staff involved in the care and treatment of British servicemen, as well as some of the military patients.