ASK PEOPLE what would make their business more successful and answers might include better sales, lower costs or higher profits.

However delve a bit deeper and what people really crave is certainty. If they have that, they can then use their skills to run the business, without having to factor in variables over which they have no control. In agriculture, uncertainty has always been part of the equation; top of the list of drivers is the weather, followed by diseases and then people’s whims about what they want to eat.

For years agricultural policy has been about reducing income uncertainty. Initially this was about an adequate post-war food supply. In the UK the result was the deficiency payment system, which guaranteed farm prices. In the then EEC, the CAP came into existence long after UK deficiency payments. As a result, each generation of farmers here since the 1950s has been used to some form of guaranteed income security – whether that came through the old deficiency payments or the CAP that replaced them.

In the EU-27 that model will continue, but for the first time in more than 65 years, that certainty will not extend to UK agriculture.

That does not mean all is perfect with the CAP. There are questions about the shape of support, and how much it will be trimmed back because of post-Brexit cuts to the overall EU budget. However, any cut would be less than 5%, and what is not at issue, is whether support will continue. By contrast, the Defra minister, Michael Gove, told the committee that monitors his department that he could give no assurances on farm support beyond 2022. He said, rightly, that only the Chancellor could give a long term commitment.

That means support can no longer be taken for granted in farming, and as time goes on that will be a big difference between the EU-27 and the UK. If, however, polls in 2016 were right, a majority of farmers voted to leave the EU. By going down a path with no support assurance they are effectively getting the exit from the CAP and its bureaucracy that they wanted. The government is making no false promises about maintaining farm incomes or matching the CAP. Agriculture will have to compete to secure support, and that will be difficult with both major parties at Westminster urban-focussed in the decisions they take.

In short, squeaky doors get the oil, and politicians are unlikely to listen to squeaks from farming or rural communities.

If the government is taking away the income certainty of the CAP, a big unknown is whether it is replacing the certainty of the single market, with an alternative that will benefit farming and food. That is a question that has not been answered, and despite claims that a deal with the EU could be in place by the end of the month, there is no certainty that this will not become another missed deadline.

As of now, there are effectively three market alternatives on the table, and two could be good for agriculture. The one that would not be good for farming or any other part of the economy would be a no deal exit from the EU. This might please the anti-Europe wing of the Conservative party, but would be a disaster for the entire economy. For farming, this would maximise uncertainty and minimise market prospects.

The alternatives have been well debated. One is a Canada-style deal based around free trade but with decisions taken on a commodity by commodity basis. This would win the support of the pro-Brexit Tories, but it would take years, not months, to negotiate the detail, and agriculture would inevitably be a tariff battleground.

The one now grabbing attention is continuing UK membership of the customs union. This would be open-ended, or at least until the Irish border problem is solved, which remains an unlikely prospect. This would be a good outcome for agriculture, offering maximum short term certainty because little would change. It would limit scope for trade deals beyond the EU-27, but these have little to offer agriculture and so would not be missed.

As to the odds for each option I would say 10% for no deal, 30% for Canada plus and 60% for continued membership of the customs union – but then given the pace of political events, that could all change tomorrow.