THIS HAS certainly been a year like no other and, with much of Kent turned into a lorry park, we are having an early taste of what life could be like after Brexit, even if there is a last minute deal between Brussels and London.

It was a year that began with a massive sense of confidence from the UK government. It had just won a huge election majority, managed to get Brexit legislation done and promised an 'oven ready' trade deal. We were assured that the EU needed us more than we needed them and that as a result we would secure the easiest trade deal in history.

None of that came to pass. The year is ending with farmers and the rest of UK industry still uncertain about the biggest challenge in a generation coming into play in a few days time. Politicians have failed to take on board the lessons of so many management courses. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. That is the road we are on. Even if, as seems likely, a deal is stitched together, it will be rushed, driven by politics and so vague that the devil in the detail will come back to bite us in 2021.

Brexit is a reminder that the EU we are leaving is a global power when it comes to trade. It is the world's biggest trading bloc; it accounts for a third of all trade in dairy products and is number one on most countries' list for a trade deal. It remains to be seen how the UK will fare, but London's hopes that countries will beat a path to its door to do trade deals are a good example of hope triumphing over realistic expectations.

As a politician Boris Johnson has a number of deep flaws. He is too ready to believe his own publicity; he fails to see issues from the point of views of those opposing him; above all he wants to be liked and believes that can be achieved by force of personality. He is in a twin mess over Brexit and coronavirus because he did not want to risk unpopularity by making the right decisions at the right time. Great leaders, history suggests, are rarely liked even if they are admired.

Yes, this has been a year like no other and hopefully we will never see another like it again. There are positives however in 2020 for farmers. We are seeing in the panic over the problems in Dover how quickly supply chains are threatened. In the first lockdown supermarkets ran out of toilet rolls and that caused panic, but things would have been much worse if consumers had faced empty food shelves. Farmers rose to that challenge and are continuing to do so. They will do that regardless of what happens over Brexit.

A key question is whether Covid will change anything permanently. In the short term it must have made Johnson and his fellow pro-Brexit Conservatives more cautious about a no deal outcome. Events in the south of England have shown how vulnerable supply chains are to anything that stops just-in-time deliveries, yet that is exactly what Brexit will do. Johnson was able to call the French president, Emmanuel Macron, to seek a solution. But if the queues are down to the consequence of a no deal Brexit, there will be no plan B, and no-one to call.

There have been claims that the shortages of some food are evidence UK farmers could step up to fill the gaps, but with the best will in the world, farmers cannot get over the seasonal facts of life.

A report last week did suggest lockdowns might have brought about a new approach to food among consumers. This was based on a Danish study across a number of EU member states and the UK. It found that lockdown changes what people view as important, with local sourcing, food security and quality again key issues.

Lockdown even encouraged families to eat together and to again view food as an important part of they day, rather than as something to be rushed to go do something else, somewhere else. If food security becomes a more potent political issue that will be no bad thing. But as we come to the end of what has been an awful year. that is minimal comfort in the face of the massive challenges and unknowns that lie ahead.