The farming demonstrations in Ireland have been low key compared with those in the rest of Europe.

Here, the guiding principle for the IFA has been to show solidarity with EU colleagues while pressing the Government to support farming and food production, as well as taking a sensible approach to the ever-tightening environmental regulations.

But over the last two weeks, events have moved on. COPA, the overall umbrella farm organisation, wrote a detailed letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen detailing what was needed to reinvigorate European agriculture.

Whether it is because president von der Leyen wants to be reappointed as commission president or not, the fact is she has been giving more thought and time to farming issues than she ever has in the past.

Among the COPA issues raised was that the ban on below cost selling should be reconsidered. We have mentioned before that the reintroduction of such a ban seems to be a ‘no-brainer’ in trying to deal with the lack of balance in bargaining power between supermarkets and suppliers.

We will see if the concept gets anywhere this time. The COPA letter also raises the issue of lack of generational renewal and the lopsided international trade deals that usually sacrifice agriculture.

Rishi Sunak

It was remarkable that in the same week. the British prime minister attended the National Farmers Union AGM in Birmingham. It was the first time in almost 20 years that the Prime Minister of the day attended the event.

Mr Sunak promised that there would be a statutory calculation done each year charting how British food self-sufficiency was being delivered – window dressing?

Perhaps, but he also substantially increased funding for the myriad of environmental schemes that are meant to replace the EU single farm payment type schemes.

In her final address, the formidable Minette Batters compared the volatility of farm incomes and prices with the index linked payments that go to renewable energy producers, whether wind or solar.

She also echoed her European counterpart’s complaints at the one-sided international trade deals. UK farmers have always been slow to protest as disruptively as on the continent, but the underlying factors are the same.

The Brexit deal between the EU and the UK foolishly allows British farm produce over a transitional period to be replaced by third country beef, lamb and dairy production and diverted free of duties and levies onto the broad EU market.

Ireland should never have gone along with this proposal, and now is the time to put in place some kind of protective mechanism.

With France having effectively torpedoed the long-running Mercosur deal with the South American countries, now is the time to further cement a joint approach to at least get some safeguards build into this arrangement.