NO LANGUAGE can match German for stringing words together to make a new noun.

Writing recently, the ex-BBC DJ, Simon Mayo used the term 'Verschlimmbesserung' to describe attempted improvements that end up making things worse. He, rightly, said that the BBC along with the NHS were prime examples of this in practice.

But it applies even more to the mess the Brexit negotiations have become.

The prime minister's self-belief that she can persuade the EU to change an agreement it says it will not change could be viewed as determination. Perhaps she even believes her own rhetoric, but unless there is a dramatic change of heart in Brussels she has a week or so until she has to admit the reality of her situation. Where this will all end up is impossible to forecast, but with each day that passes, the future becomes less certain for all businesses. History will certainly not judge politicians kindly for how they have handled Brexit. The EU, like the BBC and NHS, is far from perfect, but the hopes many had for Brexit will be dashed if its becomes another example of attempted improvements making things worse.

The best hope now is some sort of deal that gives maximum time to negotiate sensible trading arrangements. Farmers, like others in business, are more interested in trade outcomes than politics. Time is needed to turn the aspirations about trade into sensible commercial reality. But as relations between the UK and many of the EU-27 member states worsen over the government's failure to deliver on what it has already agreed, that process becomes even more difficult. Negotiation by attrition and last minute deals are very much part of the Brussels way of doing business. But there is a huge difference between a CAP reform deal, or even the Lisbon or Maastricht treaties, and the deal for the first country to leave the EU.

For farmers the 'making things worse' concept is not about Brexit itself but the market consequences. Many farmers voted for Brexit to escape red tape, but no-one is offering any assurances that the UK support structure, with its environmental focus, will be less bureaucratic. However the real problems lie with the market. The focus tends to be on the export side of the equation, with questions about supplying lamb into France. However that is only part of wider potential post-Brexit problems that could see things being made worse.

The latest farm income figures suggest input costs have risen. This reflects the dramatic weakening of around 20% in the value of sterling since 2016. This is an issue often forgotten about in the Brexit debate, but agriculture depends on imports for the three big inputs – feed, fuel and fertiliser. Bigger farms also depend on labour, often in recent years from EU member states.

A slowing UK economy after a no deal or a bad Brexit will further weaken sterling. That will drive up input costs to the disadvantage of profitability. That is a bigger issue than the prospect of short term supply problems after Brexit, and trading on World Trade Organisation tariffs terms could drive input costs even higher. This is often forgotten, because most commentators focus on the sales side rather than the purchase side of the post-Brexit equation.

On the sales side, we concentrate on the loss of exports to the EU-27, and equally they focus on the potential loss of UK business. This is particularly so for Ireland, despite the tough stance Dublin is taking over the backstop. For the EU-27 this tough line is backed by assurances from Brussels that in the event of a big loss of UK business, compensation for farmers will be available.

Less talked about for the UK is the threat from cheap food imports. Recently we saw American lobby organisations coming together to press the UK to dismantle protection against hormone treated beef, GM crops and antimicrobials. Their message, which they want their government to pursue, is that the UK should accept US standards rather than those of the EU.

The outcome, they suggested, would be a free trade deal with the US. However ignoring EU food standards would lose markets there for negligible trade gains from a deal with the US with its aggressive farm export policies. This is why things are more complex than the simple issues being debated, and why Verschlimmbesserung is such an apt term for the complexities of the Brexit process.