WHEN YOU cannot get to sleep these hot nights, making a list is the modern version of counting sheep. Favourite golf holes and how you might play them generally does the trick for me.

However I recently made the mistake of devising a list of the things that need to be sorted in agriculture as a result of Brexit, beyond new support structures. With the prospect of a hard Brexit on March 29 next year, that challenge is now all the greater.

Top of the to-do list still has to be a new support structure. The assumption has been that the CAP model of direct payments would continue through the transition period. If there is a hard Brexit and no trade deal there will be no transition. Under those circumstances there would be little point in remaining tied to a system farmers, by a considerable majority, voted to leave.

Since farmers are so reliant on the CAP, it is an industry where the government needs to explain the implications of a hard Brexit. It wants to avoid that outcome, but it is now more possible than ever. For that reason it would only be fair to tell farmers what will happen if we crash out of the EU in less than eight-months time with no deal in place.

Against that background it was bizarre that the Westminster committee that monitors Defra was seeking headlines for a report concerned with whether retailers are passing off real fur as fake fur. Given what is coming down the road for agriculture, that committee should be focussing on bigger issues. Its chairman, Neil Parish, as a former member of the European parliament's agriculture committee with a sound farming background that is now rare in the Conservative party, must know that.

Leaving aside the issue of support and trade the list of areas that need to be addressed is long. Under pressure from pro-remain Conservatives, the government has agreed to remain within the EU medicine legislation and controls. That is a sensible decision. The precedent that has created needs to be extended to other areas, including the approval and registration of pesticides and animal medicines. The European Food Safety Authority is an excellent honest broker in this debate.

This could be a win, win situation. It would maintain controls that are effective and widely recognised, while maintaining UK involvement in providing scientific advice. The only problem would be leaving the UK coupled to green pressure in the EU, but that pressure is also a fact of life here and the government is unlikely to break away from EU standards over anything related to the environment.

In the event of a hard Brexit, vets will be under pressure to check imports and certify exports. The government needs to confirm that for new customs checks sufficient vets will be available, not least because ending free movement of EU citizens could undermine access to European vets.

Rural development is also on the list. This represents essential funding in parts of Scotland, and while the UK has never had a good rural development deal from Brussels, it has been better than nothing. Rural communities need assurance now that this will continue, and that a replacement will emerge so that there can be a smooth transition into new programmes after Brexit. This is an opportunity to do rural development better, and the government needs to prove this is a Brexit opportunity rather than a threat.

A key issue to be resolved is how to promote food. The first decision is whether to retain PGI products. These have been a marketing success. The United States does not like PGI and has suggested the scheme's demise here be a condition of a trade deal with the US. The government needs to stand up and say it will retain PGI or go it alone with a similar scheme, albeit with less reach.

A bigger issue is how to promote food. The EU, after Brexit, will be our biggest competitor, given that it is now the world's biggest agrifood trader. It spends around €180 million a year promoting food, and the government will need to dig very deep indeed to match that with new food industry promotional funds at home and overseas.

This is only the first page of a very long list – and thinking about what has to be done is less the stuff of sweet dreams than nightmares.