THE last best chance to save the world from the effects of climate change has now rolled on to the next best chance in Egypt next year. Despite enough hot air to power a small city nothing of substance was achieved. China and Russia will go on generating power from coal; the US has avoided confronting its dependence on coal, with a million tonnes produced each year in Virginia alone. The focus on big ideas and big gestures inevitably failed; the world is no more secure after Glasgow than before.

Other than being drawn into the methane debate the issue of food and agriculture was deemed too small beer to make it on to the main agenda. This is despite food being key to survival and the fact that agriculture is a key part of the solution as well as one of the many sources of the problem. There is a need for a root and branch review of global food production.

Countries and trading blocs need more freedom to ensure they can demand others meet their standards as the price of doing business. Without this all efforts to green agriculture in some countries will fail. Food will be imported from those with lower standards. The result will be, to use the over-worked phrase of COP 26, a net zero impact on global greenhouse gas production.

With climate change out of the headlines a real bread and butter current issue has replaced it. That is the UK rate of inflation, which has now topped four per cent and is at its highest level for almost ten years. Inflation is viewed by economists as a threat to prosperity and as an obstacle to economic growth.

It will drive an increase in interest rates as the current inflation figure is far beyond the Bank of England's two per cent target. Rising prices have taken over from Brexit problems as the main topic of social conversation and farmers are at the sharp end.

This was confirmed in a classic example of good and bad news that emerged from two major bodies this month. These are the United Nations as Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the European Commission. The FAO October global price index painted a picture of rising commodity prices, led by cereals.

Prices for wheat alone rose by five per cent from September to reach their highest level since 2012 – ironically when UK inflation was last at its present rate. Across other major commodities prices also rose, with even meat far ahead of where it was in the same month last year. This is the sort of news farmers like. Rising commodity prices impact what they receive more than rising shop prices, which tend to be absorbed by others along the food chain.

A dose of very cold water from the European Commission however hit that optimism. This came from one of the Commission's best officials, the Irishman Michael Scammel who cut his teeth as a sheep researcher before going up and up the Brussels agricultural directorate tree.

Speaking to members of the European parliament's agriculture committee he warned that two factors alone were wiping out the gains from higher commodity prices. There are no prizes for guessing what these are – fertiliser and agrochemical prices. Scammel said that even for the arable sector, enjoying good prices because of high production in Europe while it fell elsewhere, the rise in fertiliser prices alone was enough to wipe out any gains. For other sectors the impact is even worse because they have gained less from rising commodity markets.

This is why inflation is the enemy of economic stability. In a nutshell we have an example of how, even prices at a twelve-year high for wheat, they are not enough to head off the rising costs. These are linked to energy prices and made it even harder at COP 26 to persuade people to risk reliance on alternative energy sources.

This is all driving a tsunami of other rising costs for farmers including diesel, labour and building materials. They also face the same pressures as other consumers on the supermarket food aisle. This was well summed up in the European parliament debate, with one MEP saying that for farmers the issue is not the end price, but profitability and sadly farmers are less well placed than others to recover rising costs from the market.