'Both Brussels and London have the same green approach, but Brussels blinked first in recognising there is little point in pursuing these policies if you no longer have a thriving farming industry to implement them'

Phil Hogan was a first rate EU farm commissioner, with a great understanding of agriculture from his involvement with a family livestock auction business.

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He went on to be trade commissioner, before having to resign over attending a golf competition and dinner in Ireland during Covid restrictions. One memorable quotation he gave me in the run up to the 2016 Brexit vote was that he saw it as a simple choice for farmers.

They could stick with the EU, with all its imperfections but with guaranteed funding, or they could take a punt on the generosity of the British Treasury.

Many opted for that gamble and further evidence has emerged that when it comes to splashing the cash for agriculture, the EU comes out the winner. It knows when to dig deep and recognise that financial problems in agriculture have implications for rural communities, politics and food security.

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No trading bloc has the funds to solve all the problems facing the farming industry and in the case of the EU, cynics would be right to claim it is having to do so because its policies have created some of the problems.

However, those cynics are slower to recognise that the UK has the same policies, creating the same problems in agriculture but without the political drive to want to ease those difficulties.

Both Brussels and London have the same green approach, but Brussels has blinked first in recognising that there is little point in pursuing these policies if you no longer have a thriving farming industry to implement them.

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That reality is not recognised in the UK, meaning a Treasury presiding over an ailing economy will not be opening its coffers in the way the way the EU just has for farmers.

The European Commission has agreed a £370m package for farmers across the EU to help offset the impact of 'severe climate events'. These were mainly drought conditions followed by floods, with Spain, Italy and France the biggest beneficiaries of the aid package.

The payments are also to offset high input costs and what Brussels describes as 'diverse market and trade related issues' linked to the war in Ukraine. Under the regulation, member states will be allowed to top up the fund by up to 200% of their national envelope.

In addition, Brussels said it was open to suggestions that CAP direct payments should be made early again this year. Payments and the detailed regulations around who will receive the funding will be the responsibility of individual member states.

Member states have also been given approval to alter their agreed CAP implementation plans to divert more agricultural and rural development funding towards restoring land and crops damaged by extreme weather conditions.

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Could the EU have done more? – probably. Will the EU do more? – again, the answer is probably. The UK would certainly have had a share of this funding for agriculture and the ability to decide which sectors would receive it, if it had still been a member state.

We have not had the extreme weather events of some EU member states, but we are part of a northern European area that has suffered the consequences of a cold spring, followed by a dry June. Aid would not have been as generous as it will be for Spain, France and Italy, but it would have happened and the UK farm lobby could now be pressing government to to use the freedom from the EU to top up the payments.

The agenda for that conversation no longer exists and this is why the power of the farming lobby at Westminster is a faint shadow of what it once was. As the Conservative party becomes more urban and distant from its traditional shire counties, that can only get worse.

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Generous as the EU package looked, because it came to hundreds of €millions, in reality by the time it trickles down to farmers, it will be a relatively small amount per farm business.

However, this is not only about money. It is about political recognition that farming, food production and rural economies are important – and that they are not just there to be part of green plans to impress urban voters.

There is more joined up thinking around this in Brussels, with all its faults, than there is in London. The slow death of real political influence for UK agriculture is another casualty of Brexit aspirations topping its reality.