EVENTS IN other EU member states seem remote now that we are on our way out of the EU and the CAP.

However after Brexit we will still want to trade with the EU-27, and will be doing so on the basis of their rules. That means whatever is agreed by individual member states, or by the EU-27, will have an influence on what we do.

With the UK Agriculture Bill due later this year, ideas in the EU-27 may also feed into that, not least because it would make compliance and trade easier.

Farmers may hope that the new green enthusiasm in the government over agriculture is a pragmatic and not a prescriptive process. In short, one designed to appeal to voters, without becoming a damaging vehicle for the ideas of green groups.

During a recent visit to the UK, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, came across as a Gallic charmer, even suggesting that given the opportunity French voters too might have opted to leave the EU. But behind that charm is a steely politician, determined to make big changes in France. That includes a green agenda in agriculture. France has become the first EU member state, and possibly the world's first major agricultural nation, to launch an all-out drive to reduce the use of agrochemicals, specifically pesticides.

It was France that led opposition to the renewal of the licence for glyphosate. While it ultimately lost that battle, it did succeed in reducing the relicensing period from 15 to five years. However the Macron-led initiative wants to go further, targeting all pesticides.

Its aim is to limit their use and reduce agriculture's dependence on them. It has an ambitious target of delivering a road-map by the end of March. It has already identified four key targets – speedy action to reduce the use of products deemed dangerous to people, wildlife or livestock, research on alternatives, research on the negative impact of these products and a new drive towards sustainable agriculture. To ensure agriculture does not kill the plan, two other government departments are involved – health and innovation.

This is a bold initiative, and it is against the background of France being the biggest farming country in the EU, and the biggest recipient of CAP support. Surprisingly the main French farm union has suggested it could go along with the policy, provide it can be implemented without damaging farm businesses.

If France does go down this road it raises a number of issues. The first is whether, if it is successful in coming up with a plan, it can seek to turn this into an EU-27 policy. That is unlikely, but France has always called the shots on agriculture and green policies are popular in many other member states.

This would be a challenge to the Single Market, if France seeks to make its standards the basis for trade. It may not be able to do this with the EU-27, but it could do so with other countries, including the UK, outside the EU. That prospect, and the impact on domestic food sales, may be why the French farm unions are prepared to go along with this idea.

Despite that, it seems a strange policy for a country that wants to be a globally competitive exporter of crops like cereals that depend on the effective use of agrochemicals. Already European producers are struggling to be competitive against those using GM technology. This could turn French farmers from having one hand to having two hands tied behind their back, other than for markets prepared to pay a green premium.

It remains to be seen, at the end of March, whether the French plan will be a long list aspirational ideas, or a document to drive early and radical change. Given the need for alternatives, without switching to GM crops, it may not be practical to make speedy progress without an unacceptable risk to French agricultural productivity. However the green lobby will see France as a blueprint for others. The newly green Defra Secretary, Michael Gove, will come under pressure to adopt a similar approach, in parallel with his new green support plans and EU-27 topping animal welfare standards. That would be in line with the government's new voter approval seeking green enthusiasm.

But it would be another burden for a farming industry in the UK already facing a less certain future outside the CAP that French farmers will enjoy within it.