I FIND it a bit depressing to think back to how many columns I have written about what the New Year will bring. 

For years, these were about the state of play for the CAP and successive CAP reforms. That policy is back on the change agenda again at the start of 2018, but that is now of marginal interest to farmers here. 

Our days in the CAP are numbered, after almost 45 years when its twists and turns dictated farming policy in Scotland.

Over that time, farmers became adept at responding to change, although to be fair the steady financial benefits the CAP delivered made that worthwhile. Now, if what the government has said is right, we are less that 15 months away from leaving the CAP. 

In an announcement before Christmas, the Defra Secretary, Michael Gove, confirmed the CAP would not be part of the two-year transitional period after the UK leaves the EU in March, 2019. He said that on that date the UK will no longer follow the regulations of either the CAP or, indeed, the common fisheries policy.

This is what many farmers voted for when they opted to leave the EU. It is, nonetheless, a daunting prospect until the government comes out and says what will replace the CAP. 

We know funding coming into agriculture, equivalent to the CAP, is guaranteed for the term of this parliament. That should be until 2021, but no-one is taking bets on the present government lasting that long. 

A mechanism has to be put in place to take up the slack from when we leave the CAP, with its direct payments and other rules, until the funding guaranteed by the government runs out in 2021 or is replaced with a new funding stream.

Hopefully, the New Year will finally see progress. We have been promised a green Brexit, but we have not been promised an income delivering Brexit for farm families. 

This is what is needed to underpin environmental goals and, indeed, to secure the UK’s food supply in the uncertain years that lie ahead. 

This has been kicked into touch for too long and to continue the rugby analogy, that is not a great tactic when it is the final quarter and you are losing the game. 

Farmers need this information to plan what is a long term business. They have every right now to be angry with politicians at Westminster that are failing to deliver certainty. 

The government needs to remember it is sitting on a wafer-thin majority that is only there because of the DUP. If this collapsed and an election is called, the Conservatives will need to be seen to have taken on board farmer concerns about their post-Brexit future.

Hopefully, the New Year will also bring real progress on trade. It would be interesting to hear a minister – preferably Liam Fox, who is responsible for trade – explain just how the trade miracle they are promising outside the EU will work in practice. 

Most ministers seem to think the world is waiting with bated breath for the UK to escape the EU to conclude trade deals. That is despite the fact that we are in a market of 65m, while a deal with the EU delivers 500m people. 

The government needs to explain why, as members of the EU for another 15 months, we cannot now sweep up export business with all the countries, including Japan, with which the EU has free trade arrangements. 

This will also apply in South America, after Mercosur is concluded, with Canada now and with Australia and New Zealand when the EU concludes free trade agreements.

Trade is now the crucial area of the Brexit debate, with the EU warning that London cannot have the best of both worlds, in the shape of access to the single market while not accepting the conditions others face. 

It is impossible to forecast where this will lead, but the outcome to date has been that the UK gives concessions but gets little in return. 

Negotiating 27 to one will always be tough. Trade success is essential for agriculture, and it is hard to see how we can access the single market, while at the same time walking away from the CAP regulations that are the foundation of free trade in agricultural products. 

Time will tell how and if that particular circle is squared. Past columns forecasting the outcome of CAP reforms were a lot easier to write.