Never have we seen such a change in official attitudes towards farmers and farming. The so-called “Green Deal” that was European Commission President von der Leyen’s flagship policy is now officially in tatters.

The fact that she entrusted its implementation to the visibly biased senior vice president Franz Timmermans, who lacked both competence and knowledge, must place a question mark over her judgement – but that’s for another day.

There are a number of factors that have contributed to the present disarray. The widespread farmer protests across Europe have caused politicians to not just reverse policies, but to search for solutions.

The series of debacles have put COPA-COGECA, the EU farmer representative body, in a strong position.

They have a huge responsibility at a time like this. Last week they issued a comprehensive statement on how a misguided policy on letting in essentially unrestricted amounts of Ukrainian grain undercut EU markets and cost European farmers’ livelihoods.

Like many well-intentioned European Commission proposals, it was badly thought out and unexpectedly damaging to European farmers.


The sanctions applied against Russia in response to the original invasion of Crimea were similarly ill thought out, and only served to increase Russian food self-sufficiency.

The policy blunders have continued.

The launching and subsequent withdrawal of the proposed 50% reduction in plant protection products has been the most obvious.

The range of environmental and climate policies imposed on farmers with no corresponding increase in budget allocations, as well as regulations and international trade agreements that have sacrificed European farmers’ access to their own home market have all resulted in the present outpouring of anger and frustration.

While an emergency grouping to advise the Commission has been set up, more is needed. We are into the dying days of this Commission and elections to the European Parliament are due in a few months.

Farmers should take pause and consider what a modern CAP should look like – one that will give confidence to the next generation as well as solve the present chaos.