After a difficult winter and a very late spring, I know farmers have been running to catch up in recent weeks. Arable farmers have been working around the clock drilling crops. Livestock farmers have been working to finally turn their cattle out to grass, which will come as a relief to those who struggled with shortages of fodder at the end of winter.
When you have an opportunity for great change, it is always important to receive lots of individual perspectives, because it is often where the most innovative ideas are to be found. A number of farmers have told me in recent weeks they thought the paper focused too much on the environment and not enough on food production.
Then there are subsections on research and development, labour availability and on maintaining standards in future trade deals. So, I do not agree the consultation did not address farming and food production.
However, we also need to recognise the current Common Agricultural Policy is not about food production. In fact, the current area-based payment regime is explicitly not about food production. Instead, it is an upside-down system of subsidies which pays based on how much land someone owns or controls, regardless of what they do with it.
However, from where we are, moving over time to a system of payment for the delivery of public goods, such as high animal welfare standards, improved soil husbandry and more sustainable farming, must make more sense.