ELECTRIC CARS of still uncertain technology and heat pumps of even less certain technology are the headline grabbers in the UK Government's race to look ultra-green for the COP 26 event in Glasgow.

In the race for net zero by 2050, no idea is too bizarre, no amount of money too much. Yet the greenest of industries – agriculture – has yet again been ignored. This is despite its potential to deliver truly green solutions, in the shape of shorter supply chains, less intensive farming methods and healthier diets.

Read more: Scottish Ag leaders raise farming's needs ahead of COP26

The challenge of methane from livestock is much more capable of being solved by science than the unproven ideas now being pushed as fact. The Westminster disinterest in agriculture also ignores the balance sheet element where it is part of the problem via methane, which can be reduced, but also a key part of the solution to absorb carbon via forestry and permanent grassland.

Instead of looking to traditional industries, the government, and the prime minister Boris Johnson in particular, is acting like a child entranced with their shiny new toys while ignoring those already in the toy box.

The aim is to walk tall as a world leader at COP26 in a bid to persuade the United States into similar costly green commitments. This is despite China, as the world's biggest polluter, effectively ignoring what the rest of the world is doing. By allowing it to become the manufacturer to the world, the countries burnishing their green credentials are doing so while exporting the problem.

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This, on a bigger scale, is what is happening with food in the EU, with its Farm to Fork strategy. It has admitted it is powerless to act against food imports that do not meet its ever-higher green standards. The same problem confronts the UK, because under World Trade Organisation rules, neither can demand suppliers meet standards not rooted in science.

Rising prices have now replaced Brexit as the conversation opener when people meet. We saw further warnings this week that the price of food is going to rise relentlessly in the months ahead. This should be a source of good news for farmers, but it is others along the food chain who are set to have their cost increases met by consumers.

Outside the EU, one thing that has lapsed is a UK role in reports on the future for agriculture. Not all EU reports are useful, because they depend on the quality of the initial assumptions. However the European Commission has never been bad at addressing short and medium term farming prospects. Those reports now exclude the UK and Defra has not taken up the slack.

This is perhaps understandable, given the scale of the UK industry in a global context.

With rising prices and gaps on supermarket shelves, the government would be well placed to deliver positive action on agriculture as part of its green plans. This would go down better with consumers than the pipe-dreams a lot of its other ideas represent.

In the EU there is a Green Deal for a similar reduction in carbon the UK is planning to deliver. This is an area where Brexit has made no difference, in that the government has accepted the EU approach as the foundation of its own policies. However the Farm to Fork concept is very much part of the Green Deal. Indeed it is central to it and not only for the CAP. This includes an unrealistic plan to have 25% of EU production organic by 2020, but much of the rest of the initiative delivers the joined up thinking needed if green delivery is to be achieved. The lesson in policy is generally that success comes from an accumulation of small ideas and joined up thinking, rather than from headline grabbing big initiatives.

The EU approach brings a lot of issues into the Farm to Fork thinking, including ways to tackle food waste, methane production and even the link between diet and health. Critics say this reflects the EU's centralised approach, but it is potentially more effective and greener than the farm policy vacuum in the UK. This is not about embracing the same ideas as the EU, but about making agriculture and food central to green delivery. Farmers are part of the solution, not the problem – and as a spin off, that is thinking that would deliver better quality, healthier food and a more secure supply chain.