LET’S IMAGINE we are farmers in France, Germany, Ireland or indeed any other EU member state where farming is economically and politically important.

We would be growing the same crops, using the same machinery and probably driving the same car; we may well sell what we produce to the same business, and our prices will certainly be driven by the same market forces.

For now we depend on the same support regime. For farmers outside the UK, the focus is on the new post-2020 CAP, rather that the still unknown support structures for the UK. For both there are concerns about future funding, but that is probably less of an issue for the CAP.

In the UK, funding to agriculture will have to be squeezed out of a reluctant Treasury. Ironically Brexit is an area where there is more in common between farmers than people outside the industry would think likely. A few hotheads apart, farmers do not want trade wars over food and agriculture within Europe.

We have a common enemy in the shape of low-cost third country competitors. Even after Brexit, EU-27 farmers with a high cost base and high quality standards will not be a threat. If there is an agricultural economy in Europe with everything to lose from Brexit, it is Ireland. The UK is its biggest export market and food its biggest industry. A hard Brexit without a trade deal would devastate the Irish economy, and that threat has to go far beyond Dublin’s concerns about the political impact of a hard border in Ireland.

The bottom line is that the UK is a big net importer of food from the EU-27; top supplying countries include Netherlands, Poland, Denmark, France and Ireland. They know a deal makes sense, and this is an area where farmers will have common cause with farmers in Scotland. They are equally fed up with the politics of Brexit, and the squabbling between politicians. They want to see a political deal that will ensure market stability. If the European Commission remains as pedantic as it is now, farmers will have to get across the message that they want a deal that ensures trade continues as close as possible to the present situation.

This is an issue that has been ducked by farm lobby organisations, including COPA, of which the UK unions are still members. To date COPA has followed the Commission line, perhaps because they do not want to be accused of questioning the Brussels stance. That is understandable, but in reality this is an economic rather than a political battle.

If we are in the same morass as now come the autumn, there will have to be a switch of tactics to get member states to tell Brussels to negotiate and secure a deal that would minimise disruption to trade. That would benefit the EU-27 more than the UK, so far as food is concerned, but to date that is a reality many in the EU-27 have failed to recognise.

For farmers here, the EU will remain our nearest and best market; it is attractive because it is based around the European family farming model and has high threshold standards in both food and the environment.

That is the type of market we want to be in, rather than the fantasy of new deals with countries that are big exporters of food. The irony is that farmers in the EU-27 can say exactly the same about the UK. A trade deal would benefit agriculture here and in the EU-27; a trade war would have the opposite effect, and that is why farmers cannot allow their future livelihood to be decided by bickering politicians here and in Brussels.

If the EU-27 sticks to the myth that it can do without the UK more than the UK can do without it, that is an approach that will be economically disastrous for both. It would be the ultimate proof of the old adage that an eye for an eye can only leave everyone blind.

Farmers, like the rest of society, have very different views when it comes to Brexit and the EU. There is no single view from agriculture and that is not surprising. What should unite them, and needs to unite them more come the autumn, is avoiding an outcome that can only damage agriculture here and in the EU-27. As things stand that remains the direction of travel.