The Spice Girls made headlines by singing together at Posh Spice’s birthday party.

The ‘leaked’ video confirmed that some things are better left as they were. But in the spirit of the group’s Wannabe hit, European farmers have been telling Brussels what they ‘really, really want’ and it is no surprise they want less red tape for claiming CAP payments.

We may have left the EU, but what they want will strike a chord with farmers here still looking for the simpler systems Brexit supporters promised.

The first results have emerged from an EU-wide online survey around how to deliver the simplification farmers demanded when they took to the streets across Europe to protest earlier this year.

Thousands responded across all enterprises and farm sizes, and the message was that red tape is a burden that is getting worse. Farmers are spending between five and eight days a year dealing with CAP payment claims, and that does not allow for inspections.

Almost 80% relied on outside agencies to help with claims, either through co-operatives or private businesses.

Half are using mobile devices with geo-tagging GPS features to submit data, but while farmers are embracing this technology the message from the survey was that it does not reliably work.

In an initial response to the report, the European Commission signalled it would respond positively to calls to reduce the inspection burden, undertaken by member states to comply with rules set by Brussels.

One-third of farmers had been inspected once in the past three years, but 16% had been inspected three times in the same period.

The Commission accepted this is excessive and has said it will deliver on a commitment to make greater use of technology and reduce inspections by at least 50%. Provided that is delivered, this alone will be a good win from the protests.

The commitment is definitely now there from Brussels to respond to the concerns farmers raised in the protests. The test will be whether this continues under a new European Parliament and Commission later this year.

For now, it seems the pendulum has begun to swing slowly from green issues back to practical concerns and the importance of food production. Concerns around migration, defence and security are now bigger issues in Brussels than its green agenda.

The farm lobby organisation COPA has used its pre-European Parliament elections manifesto to demand that MEPs commit to viewing farming as a ‘strategic asset’ for Europe. In an increasingly uncertain world that makes sense.

It is also a philosophy the UK Government would be wise to follow.

It is set to spend an additional £75 billion on defence by 2030 to increase the share of the national budget going in that direction. Bolstering the nation’s food supplies for the underlain times ahead would not be costly and would still deliver the green outcomes Westminster craves as this issue slips down the agenda in Brussels.

The EU has been marking the 10-year anniversary of it milk market observatory. This was in the vanguard of efforts to make information about prices and markets more freely available, as part of efforts to improve farmers’ competitive position through greater price transparency. This is effectively a modern take on the Francis Bacon quotation that ‘knowledge is power’.

The concept of observatories has extended over 10 years and they have been a good ‘invention’ by the Commission to level the information playground in farmers’ favour. Anniversaries are always a time to look back and 10 years has seem some torrid times for the dairy industry.

Indeed, the observatory was created after a couple of very difficult years for dairy farmers. Back in April 2014, it was reporting an average milk price of 39 cent/100kg 34p. Today the price is 46 cent, an increase of 18%, which on the face of things look acceptable, but which fails to reflect the massive inflation in farm production costs.

Move to the retail side here and, in 2014, the major retailers were selling milk for 85 to 95p for two litres. Today that is closer to 1.60, while the price to farmers, as the milk market observatory confirms, has risen by less than 20%.

This is why knowledge is power and why the EU observatories are useful – even if achieving greater market fairness is a much tougher nut to crack.