WHEN THE election is over, Brexit will again be about policy, rather than the political football between parties it has become.

After three plus wasted years we will finally begin properly debating the support model for agriculture. Only then will farmers see whether common sense can prevail over political promises to give the UK what is on course to be the world's greenest support model.

Until we are back on that bumpy road, farmers have a new subject for debate. Conversation has shifted from where Brexit is going to the programme about meat of which the BBC appears unjustifiably proud. In its statement it refers to 'Meat – a Threat to our Planet' - as an exploration of global issues. It was not. It was a one-sided polemic of one person's views, for which they were given a platform. No attempt was made to explore the issues or the science, or indeed to show that agriculture is part of the solution as well as part of the problem.

There is a greater danger for the industry, that criticism of meat for its impact on the environment is becoming mainstream. We have got used to the daily diet of virtue signalling about carbon footprints, often from politicians or so-called celebrities before they fly off to tell people others should do more to tackle this issue. We have already had universities banning meat on these grounds. If there is a lesson agriculture has failed to learn over the years it is not recognising how quickly snowballs grow when they begin to roll.

The debate on post-CAP support structures will become another platform for virtue signalling, and this is all the more nauseating when it comes from politicians. In many cases they are the embodiment of the 'do as I say not as I do' philosophy. What we need is a support policy that underpins a competitive, profitable farming industry that delivers high quality food for the UK market and for export. I fear that is not on the agenda, and that what we will get will be a policy rooted in sound environmental objectives, but with the wrong model being used to deliver them. This will be a reflection of how diluted the farming lobby has become since the days when it had real influence at Westminster.

Farmers could begin to look with some envy to the EU-27 and the CAP, with its income security and roots in food production. If that happens it will be a bitter blow for the many farmers who thought voting for Brexit to escape the CAP would be a good outcome. The farm unions and others have criticised the BBC anti-meat programme for not setting out the difference between the UK and global situation. This was not however the goal of the programmes makers. This was shock jock television and that is what the programme delivered. It was never intended to be about balance and fairness, and what the farm unions wanted was never going to be part of this style of programme.

It will be an uphill battle to convince consumers of the difference and it will not be helped by politicians. When they talk of global free trade deals this is about opening barriers to cheap food, and they will certainly not be emphasising the problems. The lesson consumers need to understand is that when food is cheap, it is often cheap for a reason. We are spending a falling share of what we earn on food. Price has created a disconnect between consumers, where their food comes from and how it is produced. If it is on a supermarket shelf, for many that is all the quality assurance they need.

We can talk about the moralities of food production for ever, but ultimately it is markets that make the real trends. For now African Swine Fever in China has left the global meat industry in the position where it does not have to worry about criticism. It is a player in front of an open goal as Chinese demand for pork imports drives up all meat prices around the world. That is good news, and hopefully this will get prices onto a new, higher plateau. We need to enjoy that and forget the annoyance of a television programme that will soon be forgotten. We have taken bigger knocks, but we do need to beware that this is is part of a trend that could yet drive UK farm policy.