TODAY (Friday, January 31) is the day we officially leave the European Union.

It is a landmark day. Whatever way you voted on Brexit, this is the beginning of the finality of it. As Churchill famously said: "Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

For the future, what will it all mean? In the short-term, that will be nothing. The farming industry will still have to adhere to the legislative processes of the EU, but within a year we will start to see shape and purpose to what will happen to the industry in the medium to long term.

There is breathing space, then, to allow the formulation of a future farming policy. The structure that this will take will shape the future of the UK's farming industry for years to come. Yes, there will be tweaks, but the foundations laid will be the basis – and they must be robust enough to allow the 'structure' above to stand tall, and not sink into a quagmire of red tape and regulation.

That is why the decisions made from now on will be pivotal to the industry. It is a clean sheet that will take due note of the wider needs of Scotland, as much as it does the requirements of agriculture.

However, due diligence must be shown in ensuring that the fundamentals of food production should not be forgotten in the seemingly headlong, blinkered rush to plant trees in order that the Scottish Government attain its proposed 'carbon zero' by 2045.

Farmers and farm land will be key to attaining that goal – which is five years sooner than the rest of the UK – and they must never be viewed as a hindrance.

It must not be lost in the bun fight that active agriculture can actually sequester carbon just as efficiently (if not more so) than trees; and it should be accepted that conifers lead to a dead or, at best, stagnating rural economy.

'Livestock' more than just live up to the meaning of the word. They also breathe life into a countryside that requires active and constant management; that makes a community thrive; and that shapes a landscape worthy of being a world class tourist destination.

Agriculture must remain a fundamental plank in producing a thriving, working and productive Scotland. The doomsayers of this industry must not be allowed to disfigure the vital frameworks that act as the building blocks for a prosperous industry that remains not only vital to the general economy of Scotland, but utterly crucial to the fragile, rural areas where it delivers so much 'public good.'

As NFU Scotland pointed out this week, the twin challenges of growing Scotland’s vitally important food and drinks sector, whilst delivering a significant and positive contribution to tackling the climate change challenge, need a clear policy direction. ScotGov: It is time to stand and deliver.