The EU’s agricultural outlook conference seemed to indicate a shift in the thinking of the European Commission.

Commission president Ursula von der Leyen spoke of the need “to find middle ground” between farmers and environmental activists. That in itself seems to recognise that Brussels has got the balance of its current strategy wrong, and needs to row back.

The shift of support away from food production is part of the reason that we are seeing reductions in output across most commodities. That is also partly due to the difficult weather patterns we experienced across the continent in 2023.

Unfortunately, environmental activists are almost certainly correct in blaming climate change for our shifting weather patterns with intense heatwaves, record average temperatures and increased extreme weather events.

However, it’s starting to dawn on the Commission that unstable weather, added to the level of political instability we are seeing around the world, means Europe could be heading towards food shortages if the EU doesn’t re-commit to production within it’s own borders.

European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski has been talking about food security with increasing urgency all year. Indeed, food security is the first of the “four Ss” that have become his mantra.

The second is stability, meaning to slow the exodus from farming. We’ve lost three million farmers – 800 a day, over the last decade.

Wojciechowski recognises the need for a stability fund to support farmers who are affected by weather.

Crucially, he indicated that it needs a new fund to underpin what presumably will be a form of crop insurance. The third “S” is sustainability and, again, the context is continuing to produce food in a changing environment.

Until now, climate change mitigation measures have been the focus, but adapting to a changed climate is now a recognised priority.

The fourth “S” is solidarity, which means supporting food security in the developing world, as well as within Europe.

Unfortunately, as the Commission wakes up to the danger that food production is under its greatest threat in almost a century, the current commissioners are about to leave office.

Will the next Commission recognise the need to refocus on supports for food production as well as the environmental improvement in production systems? And if it does, will it also recognise that you can’t fund both out of a CAP budget that hasn’t increased in real terms in 40 years?

You won’t find one farmer who gives two hoots about three pillars or “four Ss” if it’s all funded from the same static CAP budget. New projects need new money, or it’s all just more of the same old story.