There has been some easing of the farm protests in Europe, at least in part because of a sense the case being made is now commanding political attention.

Europe is not alone with farmer frustration, with reports that Indian farmers had to be faced down with tear gas. It is sad an industry that ultimately exists to feed people and manage the countryside has had to resort to these tactics, but the bigger issue is whether they can be effective in changing minds.

At the core of the protests is the issue of respect. Farmers fully deserve that for what they do and there are signs in Europe that this is being reflected at the top of the European Commission.

For protests to be effective, as seems to be the case in Europe, farmers need to have not only a justifiable cause, but an enthusiasm for protests and direct action. A small group of farmers in the south of England attempted to copy the tactics so successfully used in Europe, but their campaign just about fizzled out before the television cameras could even get there.

The case was just, but it failed to spread, which meant politicians yet again got away with ignoring the issue raised by farmers and rural communities. The history of farm protests in the UK has been of the mainstream farming lobby not engaging, meaning radical ginger groups took on the challenge, particularly in the dairy sector.

The European protests are not about a single sector. The entire industry is angry with Brussels’ obsession with green issues over food security. What farmers want is recognition that they are best placed to responsibly manage the countryside and produce food.

In response to the small protest in England last week, the government suggested it would look at ways to get more fairness into the food chain. That would be welcome, but this was a classic case of passing the buck.

Much of the problem lies not with processors and retailers exploiting farmers, but with the disinterest politicians – be they the government or others – show towards agriculture. Food security is not a UK political issue compared to pleasing a vociferous green lobby.

The root of the industry’s problem here is that politicians at Westminster – and sadly too many in the devolved regions – neither understand nor care about agriculture and rural areas.

This made it no surprise that a survey of rural areas that currently and for many years have solidly returned Conservative MPs showed that can no longer be taken for granted. Of the 100 most rural seats the party holds 96, but if this poll is right the government faces losing more than half these seats to Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

This would take out some very heavy hitters in the Conservative Party, who may represent partly rural constituencies but have fallen into the trap of taking voters for granted. Whether such a change of political allegiance would have any impact on resolving farmer concerns is questionable, but it is further evidence that the era of pro-farming Conservatives from the shire counties is now part of history.

In Europe, the protests have delivered the first green shoots of change. The European Commission has eased back on planned legislation on pesticides. It has also excluded agriculture from new carbon targets for 2040.

Both might have happened without the protests, but the dialogue behind these and other policies is now more conciliatory. The Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, has been stressing the importance of food security and the need to ensure farm livelihoods are supported. This is about respect, but that is not enough.

Protesting farmers rightly want more and that is about political direction more than fine words. They have made more progress in Europe than securing meaningless comments about food chain fairness, but it is not enough, and nor should farmers allow it to be enough.

It is encouraging there is now open criticism in the European Parliament about the EU’s green deal and the way policies are skewed in that direction, and away from food production and the needs of rural communities.

The logic seems to be getting through, but that may be politicians seeking to say what they think is needed to be re-elected.

If, after the June European Parliament election and the appointment of a new European Commission in October, fundamental change does not emerge, farmer protests will be back with a vengeance.