LOOKING BACK at the year that is about to be over is a bit like getting off a roller-coaster.

Some found the ride exhilarating, but others feel queasy and have no desire to repeat the experience. By any standards it was a dramatic year in politics. In the Brexit divorce, both sides are finally ready to move on, but we are no wiser than this time last year when it comes to knowing what the post-Brexit future holds for agriculture.

If politics were dramatic, it was an average year in farming. The weather was, average; prices for most commodities were neither spectacularly good or bad; the drought and heat wave in Europe ultimately had little impact on yields, making 2019 one of those years that will sink without much of a trace.

Even if it had been a more extreme year there would have been little time to debate the impact, because we are so tied up with Brexit. From farmers' meetings to the top of the farming lobby, never has so much effort gone in to discussing something to achieve so little. This was entirely down to politics which left the industry unable to make progress, because it did not know when Brexit would happen and what shape it would take. It was, in short, a year spent trying to nail a blancmange onto a wall.

In Brussels it was all change. A new European Commission came into existence a month later than planned on December 1. Out went the president much of the UK media loved to hate, Jean Claude Juncker. Despite this vilification he was in fact a genial politician who did his best. As the person on whose watch Brexit happened he was always going to be tested more than previous holders of the post. He was deeply unpopular in the UK, but in Europe he won plaudits for ensuring the EU took a line on Brexit, stuck to it and showed itself willing to accept the economic consequence of no deal rather than giving up its core principles.

He has been replaced by Ursula von der Leyen. A London educated lawyer and medical doctor she is a heavy hitter and a former German defence minister. She is a devout Christian, a staunch believer in marriage and family life and someone who goes for results rather than playing the political game. That has to make her the exact opposite to the UK prime minister, although both grew up in Brussels as children of member state officials to the then EEC.

It was also all change in agriculture, with the end of the genial and highly competent Phil Hogan's term as farm commissioner. He successfully put fairness for farmers onto the EU agenda, and has moved on to a bigger role as trade commissioner. This will make the Irishman who loathes Brexit responsible for negotiating a trade deal with the UK. He will be tough but fair and UK negotiators can expect no favours. No matter how genial he appears, Hogan is a deal maker whose skills were honed in Irish cattle markets.

The new farm commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski is something of an unknown quantity, but he will bring a different approach to the CAP. The former Polish MEP has already angered some eastern European and Baltic member states by rejecting the case for bringing their CAP payment levels up to the EU average, on grounds that this is unaffordable. He will be responsible for the technical aspects of a new CAP, probably with a delay, but his focus is on wider issues. If he cannot increase CAP payments directly, he sees rural development as a way of achieving gains for left behind member states. While Hogan's vision was around trade and farming, the new commissioner's will be about trying to bring more economic life to disadvantaged rural areas.

When history looks back to 2019 it will be seen as the year when MPs at Westminster exploited the weakness of the government to delay Brexit, only to find in a general election that voters did not agree. It was the year when the current prime minister shamelessly destroyed his predecessor to achieve his own political ends.

Above all, it was yet another year when the most pressing economic issue became embroiled in politics, when what was needed was common sense. Whether the new year will cure that is doubtful, not least as the front opens up in the battle between Edinburgh and London over independence for Scotland.