There are reports that the EU is ready to agree a compromise that would allow livestock from Northern Ireland to again be shown in Great Britain.
If finalised this would allow movement on a temporary basis, provided the time away from Northern Ireland does not exceed 15 days.
This is a small gesture and the wider problems remain as difficult as ever, including trade in a range of products from seed potatoes to second-hand machinery.
The EU has also agreed to temporarily suspend legal action against the UK for breaching the conditions of the Northern Ireland protocol.
The long-term solution to this and other trade issues with the EU remains some agreement on common food and agriculture standards. But the UK Government opposes this because it would bind it to following future EU regulations.
The EU farm commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski, has claimed research and innovation in food and farming are the main drivers in achieving broader environmental and sustainability goals.
This adds to evidence that the EU is increasingly embracing the concept of sustainable intensification, as part of its plan to deliver its Farm to Fork green strategy.
Wojciechowski claimed innovation allowed farmers to work more “precisely, efficiently and sustainably with a lower environmental impact and higher animal welfare standards”.
The commissioner also confirmed Brussels’ commitment to further work on gene editing (new genomic techniques), but with a cautious approach because of opposition to GM. A public consultation will be launched soon.
The flaw in the EU enthusiasm for science is its optimistic belief that 25% of land can be organic by 2030. This is central to the EU’s green strategy.
Meanwhile the EU and Japan, which already have one of the world’s biggest free trade areas, have announced a new cooperation deal on innovation and sustainability in agriculture.
EU agriculture trade remains buoyant, according to the latest figures form the European Commission for January to April.
Food exports were 63 billion euro (£54bn) , up by 1.7% on the same period in 2020. Imports fell significantly by 5.7%, mainly because of a plunge in trade with the UK after Brexit.
This left the positive balance of trade at 22.7 billion euro (£19.4bn), an increase of 17% over 2020. The figures are however a snapshot at a point in time.
Exports from the EU fell sharply from March to April this year, partly because of a big drop in sales to the UK. The 2020 figures used for comparison are distorted by the start of pandemic restrictions.
The Commission says sales to the UK improved in April as regulations operated more smoothly and it expects this to continue.
China was the EU’s biggest growth market for exports, followed by the United States. Along with the UK, Russia and Switzerland these countries represent over 50% of EU trade.