FROM WHEN I write this column to when you read it, politics will have changed.

The election will be over and we might have more of an idea about Brexit. Regardless of who is in government, they will not hold all the cards, and the Brexit negotiation with the EU-27 over trade will be tough. Despite claims during the election, there is no certainty this can be completed by December 2020. Indeed that is a highly unlikely outcome, given the complexity of trade negotiations.

Looking at manifestos and the lack of engagement over the election campaign between politicians and farmers reminded me of a line from my favourite poet. WB Yeats wrote about an Irish airman in World War 1 foreseeing his death 'somewhere above the clouds above'. He said of his village and the war that 'no likely end could bring them loss, or leave them happier than before'. This sums up politics so far as farmers are concerned. No matter what the election delivers they are on a road to a future that may well not be of their liking.

Any trade deal with the EU, when it is finally negotiated, cannot be as attractive as the terms we have as members of the single market and customs union; cheap food imports offer nothing for agriculture and trade deals beyond the EU offer few opportunities for agriculture not now available through the EU. On top of this we face a greener support regime than the farming lobby would ever have thought possible, with food production downgraded in favour of public good. Like the Irish airman, farmers are part of a war they cannot control which has made their fate uncertain.

One of the big losses after Brexit will be the separation of UK farming from the lobbying might of the European farm lobby. This boosted the strength of the farming lobby here, because whatever was secured from the EU became policy here. The post-Brexit road will be lonelier, because as we have seen in the election, the farmer vote simply does not count at Westminster. That battle is over and the green, climate change mitigation lobby has won. Farmers will be fighting a rearguard action to maintain as much as possible of what they now have and to escape the coils of red tape that are central to any support regulations designed in London.

Over the past few weeks we have seen in action the power of the European farming lobby. Closest to home has been in Ireland, with the focus on beef prices. Farmers there have already had a €100 million package to offset the impact of Brexit uncertainty. But since that emerged they have staged blockades of processing factories and this week of major retail depots including Tesco, Lidl and Aldi. A government-led enquiry into the beef market and competition has been secured and prices have already risen, with more to come.

In Germany, farmers blockaded Berlin with tractors. At issue was a slipping in political importance of agriculture, reflecting the power of the Greens in government. Days after the protests, the Chancellor Angela Merkel met the leaders of 40 German farm groups. She emphasised that the government wanted Germany to have a thriving agricultural industry producing food. She admitted the government may have lost sight of this in recent policies.

Merkel insisted change was needed, but gave a commitment that this would be achieved by working with farmers and not against them. The farmers also won a commitment to a new farming strategy, a greater focus on getting young people into the industry and an investigation into how society can better reward farmers.

In France, similar protests brought tractors onto the streets of Paris, but here the impact was lost when pension protests the following week eclipsed the campaign by farmers. As in Germany, this was not a protest about prices, but about what farmers see as a hostile attitude towards agriculture from the French president, Emmanuel Macron.

As is set to happen in the UK, he wants to green French farm policies, including a ban on many pesticides. The thrust of the farmer message on protest banners was about politicians losing respect for agriculture, which once made governments in France of all political persuasions quake in their boots. This shows how things change – and it is a change coming to the UK, regardless of which party wins the election this week.