July 12 will be a big showdown in the European Parliament between agriculture and the green lobby.

As things stand, the odds favour farmers, but the coming weeks will see intense lobbying to rescue one of the European Commission's flagship green projects. At issue are plans for nature restoration which sets ambitious targets for a reduction in the calculated levels of damage from farming and forestry, with significant restoration by 2030 and complete restoration by 2050.

This is being hung on the peg of climate change mitigation, but the legislation must be approved by the European Commission, whose plan it is, member states which have backed it and the European parliament, which could derail the plans entirely.

The European Commission is always keen to stress the importance of democracy and the voice of the European Parliament representing the citizens of the EU. However, when members of the parliament exercise that democracy against the commission, it does not like it and nature restoration is a prime example.

Win or lose, the European farming lobby, through its umbrella organisation COPA, has played a great game. It scored significant points and angered the European Commission, accusing it of blackmail tactics to prevent MEPs supporting the farming case.

There is science and common sense in the arguments from the farming lobby. The proposal is on top of existing green legislation and is about reversing productivity gains by re-establishing habitats and re wetting bogs and other areas that have been drained.

A prime example of how crazy these policies can be is in Ireland. There, peat was extracted for years to generate a huge industry that included peat-fired rural power stations. These have now been closed down, with the last fire going out in June.

But, the daft thing is, that for domestic use, Ireland now imports peat from another EU member state, supposedly following the same EU rules.

The other weapon being deployed by the farming lobby is food security and affordability. It has argued successfully that every attack on farming undermines European food security.

It has also claimed, with significant success, that if stricter rules are imposed in Europe all that will happen is that imports replace European food on supermarket shelves. This would mean there is no environmental gain from the policy.

This reflects the complex issue of exporting production to look green, when the policy will have no impact on a global problem. With food prices at record levels the need for food security is now accepted by European consumers and much as they might like to be seen to be green, European Parliament members are heeding the concerns of those that sent them there to represent them.

The July showdown is the result of two crucial votes in European parliamentary committees. The agriculture committee, as might have been expected, backed the case put forwards by COPA and rejected the EU plan.

This week, however, the commission's plans really hit the buffers, for now, when the environment committee voted 44 to 44 in a repeat and final split decision. Under EU rules, this counts as a negative vote, meaning the plan must now go to the full parliament, or plenary session for a final vote.

It is in this arena that things get interesting. The parliament votes largely on the basis of groups and the biggest group – the right of centre European People's Party, or EPP – is opposed to the legislation. As things stand, it is committed to blocking the plans but a lot of politics will be played out over the coming weeks.

The odds are finely balanced, but given the reality of politics and the importance of food security an historic victory for farmers over the green lobby and the 'we know best' approach from Brussels could emerge in July.

COPA is understandably delighted with the outcome, congratulating MEPs for standing up to pressure from Brussels and the green lobby. That green lobby, having rarely been successfully thwarted in its ambitions, is angry and throwing every possible toy out of the pram.

It has accused the members of the European Parliament's environment committee of undermining nature. However, COPA has the arguments right.

It said no farmer, forester or anyone in fishing is opposed to nature – but they want it done sensibly in consultation with the industry and not imposed on it by those who claim to know more than they do about how to work in harmony with nature.