Consumers are now paying prices for food that cannot be justified by market conditions or by what is happening on farms.

A report from the European Commission confirms that farmers are not to blame for continuing food price inflation, and are certainly not gaining from it.

While this focuses on the EU, it should be a trigger for a simple question here from politicians and the farming lobby. If food price inflation is driving the overall inflation rate, where is the money going if farmers are not gaining.

The EU report comes from the European Commission's statistical agency, Eurostat. It looks at the situation in 27 member states and relates that to what is happening on global markets. The message is simple – the sting has gone out of inflation. Price rises in the second quarter of the year, from April to June, largely came from crops affected by weather. Potatoes are included on the list of price rises that can be explained and justified, according to Eurostat.

Prices also rose for pigs and eggs, but fell for dairy, poultry and cereals. The report seeks to put events of this year into context.

In the second quarter the price rise to farmers compared to the previous year was just two per cent. This was despite food price inflation making almost daily headlines. It compares to a headline justifying rate in the first quarter of 17%. The overall conclusion of the report is that in the EU and globally prices are 'settling down' towards a more normal situation after a 'period of disruption' triggered in early 2022 by the start of Russian aggression in Ukraine.

This is ultimately good news for consumers and the report suggests much of the more recent inflation in food prices has been caused by supply problems as a result of drought in Europe and other global weather linked events. This does include the post-Brexit UK, and so cannot answer the question as to why consumers here continue to complain about a food price driven cost of living crisis. In the EU, even in the second quarter of the year, food prices were seen as a problem in just

17 out of 27 member states – mainly those affected by supply issues linked to extreme weather events. On input costs the news is positive for farmers. The report says that in the second quarter prices fell by five per cent compared to a year-on-year rise of 11 per cent in the first quarter.

Not surprisingly this fall from April to June was led by fertilisers (down by 23%) and fuel (down by 13%). This is welcome, but any gain is offset by the pressure on farm gate prices, leaving farmers ruining very hard to stay still or go backwards in terms of margins and cash flows across all enterprises.

When it comes to statistics the old adage about lies, damned lies and statistics holds true on most occasions, but this is not one of them. The tale this tells is clear. Prices are falling at the farm gate; food prices are falling globally and input costs are down, but not by enough to justify the lower prices farmers are receiving. Where there are lies or half-truths to be questioned is not in these statistics, but in the doubtful explanations being put forward as to why consumers are now paying prices for food on supermarket shelves that cannot be justified by market conditions or by what is happening on farms here, across Europe or indeed globally.

Some polls are suggesting that Rishi Sunak had a general election poll bounce from his decision to roll back on net zero commitments. This may be true, but it is more likely to be a reaction to the fact that he dominated the new agenda over this issue for a week.

In reality he delivered no significant change, other than on the date for the compulsory phasing out of petrol and diesel cars and it seems motor manufacturers are sticking to their 2030 plans, because they are locked into them and because they have little faith the policy will not change again after the election. If however he believes he secured a poll bounce from a do little policy change, his party might be wise to consider what it could achieve with a green reboot, that finally kicks Boris Johnson's failed thinking into touch.

This could begin with a transformation to a truly green farming industry delivering those outcomes from producing quality food and a new win, win for all twist on food security.