FARMERS ACROSS the EU are now into a new generation Common Agricultural Policy.

In reality, it will not be fully implemented until this time next year, thanks to there being a one year transition period. The new policy will last until 2027 and while farm lobby groups are unhappy with some of the green demands, direct payments remain the core of the new policy. Member states will decide how to implement new green regulations in a policy that more closely integrates support and rural development.

In general terms, many of the stability creating parts of the CAP have been retained, led by direct payments and including support for young farmers and the crisis reserve.

Surveys across the EU over a number of years confirm that people recognise the CAP as a policy to help farmers and support rural communities. The European Commission has now added a big green element, but that is unlikely to alter the view that the CAP exists for farmers and those who live in rural communities. This is because the EU values farming as an economic enterprise. It sees food production as an economic driver and one that has a unique role in helping rural economies where other manufacturing job opportunities are limited.

The EU backs this thinking up with a massive €100 million plus budget for food promotion and this increases every year. This has helped the EU grab the number one position as the world's biggest trader in agriculture, food and drink. It now has a big and still growing positive balance of trade gap between exports and imports and Brussels is happy to recognise food production as a key economic enterprise and source of employment for the EU.

This is a commitment we can only look at with envy, but it goes beyond anything bureaucrats in Brussels deliver. The slogan for promoting EU food – 'Enjoy, it's from Europe', makes much of the culinary heritage of 27 very different member states. This goes back to the respect people have in Europe for food and food producers.

In the UK we find it impossible to shake off the concept of cheap food. This was created in the 1950s, when countries around the world were the answer to food shortages. Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Uruguay cleared away the shortages and changed High Streets for ever. The UK, and Scotland is particular, has a culinary heritage equal to anything in Europe, but that is trumped by the obsession with cheap food, which politicians know is the way to leave happy voters.

Read more: It is too soon to scrap the CAP – English NFU

This is why trade deals that come at the expense of UK farmers are top of the post-Brexit pops for government ministers. Knowing the challenge of producing high quality vegetables in December, it was obscene to see the the major retailers selling carrots, parsnips, sprouts and potatoes for a few pence a bag. It may be the retailer taking the hit in a war for markets share in crucial weeks of the year, but the message that sends out is wrong. It takes away any dignity in producing food, when it is simply used as a loss leader by supermarkets.

Even worse it creates a new low benchmark from which its hard to recover to ensure consumers value food and pay a realistic price for what they put on their tables. In France below-cost selling of food is banned. It is the only EU member state doing this, but it shows the respect politicians there have for farmers and rural communities. That is a commitment from government that can never be more than a pipe dream for farmers here.

Despite all the problems with the CAP that persuaded many farmers to vote to leave the EU, Brussels has always taken agriculture seriously. That is the case in the devolved regions of the UK, but not in London where policy is ultimately driven.

Brexit was a real opportunity to forge a new approach in agriculture – to create a greener, but at the same time more globally competitive farming and food industry. Instead as we approach the sixth anniversary of the 'leave' vote, we are still debating support arrangements and seeking unrealistic green solutions. Politicians at Westminster have made a fundamental error that Brussels has avoided. They now see food production as a by-product of green rhetoric, when in reality both economic and green successes come from things being the other way around.