It makes no sense for supermarkets or others along the food chain to virtue signal their green credentials while importing food – New Zealand lamb in summer being a prime example – from the other side of the world.

It is a tentative first step, but the EU has begun a process to level the playing field between green regulations in Europe and imported products potentially high in carbon.

This will be a long process, but the principle of tackling pollution leakage is important. The first targets will be industrial products, including fertiliser, cement and steel that are high in hidden carbon, but the concept will spread. The initial target is European manufacturers who export production to comply with European rules and then imports products from third countries.

Since climate change is a global issue this makes EU action irrelevant – indeed the situation could be even worse, because controls are potentially worse outside the EU.

The new regulation is known as CBAM – cross border adjustment mechanism – to attach a true carbon level to products sold in the EU. From October importers will have to report on carbon levels in imports. Over time the regulation and enforcement powers will be tightened.

The challenge for the EU is to do this and take action against imports linked to deforestation, within World Trade Organisation rules. Hopefully the principle will extend beyond the high hidden carbon products to food, and beyond the EU to Britain and a government keen to import food to buy trade deals.

It makes no sense for supermarkets or others along the food chain to virtue signal their green credentials while importing food – New Zealand lamb in summer being a prime example – from the other side of the world.

Green lobby organisations are skilled at leaping onto band wagons. Farmers need to join forces with them to welcome this EU legislation and press for the concept to be taken up for food, with or without legislation. Only when the true carbon content of all food on supermarket shelves can be highlighted will it be fair and logical for farmers to be expected to solve a global problem while others ignore it – or even worse profit from their ability to produce without the inconvenience of green regulations.

The CBAM regulation may be a very tentative first step, but the idea is one farmers should seize and encourage others to follow. Agriculture has the will and the technology to deliver green outcomes at home, but society needs to accept that those come with costs. In Germany the fertiliser company, Yara, has teamed up with bread makers to produce a 'green fertiliser' from hydro-power, as part of a wider initiative to reduce the carbon footprint of bread production.

Farmers who agree to use the specialist fertiliser will receive premium price contracts to supply grain. That is logical thinking if people are willing to pay for green outcomes, but it is only possible if it is not undermined by cheap imports. That is why the EU plan is a good one, and why it needs to become an exemplar for other countries and trade blocs.

This is happening as farmers across Europe are making clear their growing frustration with green regulations that curb production. There is a growing sense that rural communities are becoming disenchanted with politicians implementing EU and national green rules to the disadvantage of farmers.

Ireland, this week, became the latest example of a country where attempts are being made to develop a rural political voice to fight back, in this case against a Dublin and Brussels know best approach. Proof that this can work lies in the Netherlands, with its Farmers' Citizens Movement, which in March shocked Dutch and European politics by becoming the biggest party in the senate.

Now a bigger test looms and if polls are right the party could end up with as many seats in the November Dutch general election as any of the mainstream parties. This would give the movement, which opposes curbs on livestock production to satisfy EU regulations, a pivotal role in the creation of a new Dutch coalition government.

This would shock the establishment, but it is a prime example of rural communities not only saying enough is enough, but demonstrating their opposition to how they are being treated by urban-focussed politicians. This movement is also an example of great oaks growing from tiny acorns, the party having been started in 2019 by a Dutch agricultural journalist responding to the concerns of the rural population.

If the party succeeds in November – and the polls suggest it will – this will play a key part in rebalancing the urban/rural debate far beyond the Netherlands.