Drivers on some Dutch motorways have had to cope with hazards that do not appear on their sat-nav – farmers have been dumping manure on roads as part of a campaign against new controls on farm efficiency to comply with EU regulations.

These are seen by Dutch farmers as an attack on one of the most land-limited and efficient agricultural industries in Europe.

In Ireland, farmers are incensed over a decision by the government to impose a 25% cut in farm emissions, using 2018 as a baseline. This will hit the Irish livestock sector hard, particularly dairying. It is a decision that a few years ago would never have been contemplated.

The Irish farming industry ticks every box for superlatives. Food is the country's biggest economic sector and employer; it is by far its biggest exporter and an industry where Ireland has natural advantages. This has made Ireland the biggest EU exporter of food into the UK and this is something at which it excels.

All these cuts are to meet an EU obligation to deliver a significant reduction in carbon output by 2030. Farmers are equally unhappy in other EU member states as the implications of cuts to achieve green targets are pursued. This all adds to a sense that we live in an upside down world, worthy of Netflix's surprise hit, Stranger Things.

Consumers are complaining daily about the price of rice and pasta being driven up by cereal prices. Yet the alternative, potatoes, are delivering such poor prices that there are pictures on social media of potatoes leaving farms for stock feed. This is self-inflicted pain by the EU and by the UK government, or more specifically now the aspiring Conservative party leaders. They should be using this to criticise Brussels and to hammer home the advantages of Brexit and the flexibility to do things differently.

That is not happening because, if anything, the UK wants to be even greener than the EU. To their credit EU leaders are at least having a sensible debate on the clash between food security and green aspirations, but that is not happening in the UK. Instead we are getting the inevitable platitudes about freeing farmers from red tape outside the EU to grow more food and enhance food security.

That is not a plan – it is a sound-bite for the 160,000 Conservative party members who will decide the next prime minister. In promising to slash red tape they need to remember it is green policies that create the most red tape. If it is to be eased, this cannot happen without a less draconian policy around delivering greener outcomes than the EU.

The EU finds itself with policies pulling in two directions. It is forcing member states to impose cuts on their farming industries, but it has again scrapped many set aside and other regulations for 2023. This will bring around 1.5 hectares of land back into production, although ironically grain for livestock has been excluded.

This has been welcomed by the farming lobby, but predictably criticised by green groups. However Brussels insists it is balancing food security and affordability with biodiversity and soil quality. Green groups are not convinced, but even they know that, with food prices at record levels, consumers will not appreciate any group that seeks to restrict food availability. That said, excluding grain for livestock reduces the potential impact and is little more than a political sop to pressure groups opposed to livestock farming. This is a perfect example of why political appeasement delivers bad decisions.

It is ironic this week that the world is celebrating a single ship making it out of the blockaded Ukrainian Black Sea ports. This consignment is destined for Libya, but in a normal year hundreds of ships would have sailed. The longest journey does start with the first step, but there has to be a big question mark over what grain Ukraine will have to sell from this year's harvest, when silos are emptied.

Another dose of harsh reality for the EU was its own agrifood trade figures for this first quarter. The recovery of domestic pig production in China and the loss of the massive Russian market, because of sanctions, has taken a toll, leading to a fall in exports after months of sustained growth. This is further proof that the EU and the UK have bigger worries than feel good green aspirations, but it would take a brave politician to admit that.

By Richard Wright