WE CAN all remember sporting occasions when defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory. The footballer that misses an open goal, the rugby player blind-sided into touch and in Masters week, the golfer whose over-tentative putt slips by the hole. In the new food age we are in, it is important farmers avoid this trap.

The situation created by the global food fallout from events in Ukraine will deliver no winners, certainly in the short term. The input cost pressures farmers are facing is grim with no easy solutions waiting in the wings. There is a sense here and across the EU that people understand what is happening. They have accepted they are facing into difficult, inflationary times and that the days of cheap food will soon be a faint image in the rear view mirror.

What is frustrating is that politicians, who have the luxury of good incomes and expenses, have not grasped this to the same degree. This is why they are sticking to the pursuit of unrealistic green thinking in agriculture. They love to talk about the 'climate emergency' the world is facing, but they have not yet woken up to the food emergency here and now, rather than decades down the road.

No matter how great the price increases are for consumers, the best farmers can hope for is a return to where they were. Even that was not a very profitable situation. The price increases on farms are on an unprecedented scale and unlike past rises they will not be short term.

It is vital consumers understand higher supermarket prices are not a road to riches and boom times for farmers. They are victims of rising costs, just as consumers are, and at the end of the day, farming families are consumers too. Where farmers could suffer the fate of being blind-sided into touch is via careless words and whipping up the scare factor.

In the last week there have been reports of shortages of just about everything, from eggs through milk to salads. There is some logic in the warnings, but they are not what consumers want to hear. This is not the message farmers want to be sending out if they want to win the long term battle over local food to counter the government's enthusiasm for cheap food imports.

As bills mount on farms and supply and labour shortages take their toll, farmers need to make sure this feeds into a rational and mature debate about food. Creating fear with consumers is not the way to win friends and influence them for a longer term victory over politicians. Panic buying suits no-one and it is a sure and certain way to make food imports look more attractive.

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Farmers instead need to reassure the public they have the ability to feed the nation and are ready to rise to that challenge, provided they can get politicians off their backs. This will not be easy. Green activists are seeing the gains they made being undermined daily as people's priorities change. But farmers need to stick to the mantra that they are ready to do what it takes to keep supermarket shelves well stacked with local food. They did this for past generations in the 1940s and 1950s and with the right signals from politicians, they can do it again.

That mature debate has to be based around farmers securing public understanding of the pressures they are under because of rising costs and why these must be passed on to consumers. Some supermarkets are engaging with that debate already, but more must be done to explain the key difference between prices rises that are cost push and those that are demand pull.

The latter is now a luxury created when consumers with money buy expensive food to a degree that it rises in price. That is now just a dream and what we are seeing is real cost push from farm, through processing to the cost of running supermarkets. This is rooted in higher energy costs, which are ultra-inflationary, and genuine food shortages because of events in Ukraine.

On the cost push issues, farmers are facing the greatest pressure by far. Getting that across in a rational way is central to mature debate. Once that debate is won, people will tell politicians to change their priorities so that food security and food sovereignty are top of a new agenda. That is the outcome farmers want and need from current events.