IF IT were not for Brexit, forecasting what 2019 might bring would be easy.

If we were remaining part of the EU, we would be looking forward to new legislation banning unfair trading practices along the food chain. We would be debating the shape of the new CAP, with its commitment to tackling 'generational change' through support for young farmers. The new policy will be in place after 2020, but already we know it will remain rooted in direct payments. The argument now is over the detail rather than the substance.

In the EU the new year will bring change. By the summer there will be a new European Commission, with a new farm commissioner. The UK will not be part of that process, but farmers in Scotland and the rest of the UK have gained from having Irishman, Phil Hogan, as commissioner. He was a farmers' farm commissioner and one of his legacies will be the legislation on unfair trade practices, which he promised from day one in the job.

There will also be European elections and a new European parliament. Unless Brexit is delayed on a technicality, the UK will not be part of that process, meaning 2019 will be a career ending one for many MEPs from across the UK. They have delivered to varying degrees, but all will now have to get used to life outside the Brussels and Strasbourg bubbles. Many will however have the pain offset by handsome pensions others can only dream of.

That sounds like a recipe for stability around support and for new opportunities via a new commission and parliament. That should be a positive process, although farm lobby organisations will have to get used to dealing with new teams of officials and MEPs. For the record, the number of MEPs will stay the same, with the UK allocation of 72 spread across other countries.

However for farmers here the situation is very different. At one level Brexit is an opportunity to do things differently. It can be an opportunity to create a better support system for agriculture and to forge new trade alliances. We could escape the rigid, environmentally driven controls of the EU and go back to the days when technical innovation and productivity were admired rather than criticised. That is what many farmers expected when they voted for Brexit, but there are no signs of such a utopian future being delivered.

If farmers in the EU-27 can look down the road to a post-2020 support system, with funding guaranteed, and a new five-year Commission and parliament, we are not in that position. We cannot see events beyond the present political mess Brexit has become. The vote on the Withdrawal Bill may change that, but believing in such an outcome takes a big measure of optimism. If that vote is lost by the government we really will be in uncharted waters.

The problem remains that Brexit has become an entirely political rather than an economic issue. This is not what people voted for back in 2016. The process has given some validity to the old management course claim that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. There is nothing farmers can do about this. Livelihoods are being decided within the Westminster bubble, and farmers and others can only hang on to see where the ride finally delivers them.

In this whole process the most worrying thing is that farming and farm support seem to be off the political agenda. In recent weeks the Defra minister, Michael Gove, has commented on just about everything except agriculture. He seems to be obsessed with environmental issues, seeing his brief entirely as environment minister and forgetting the food and rural affairs aspects of the brief.

This is not surprising given the unpopularity of the government and the public's enthusiasm for green issues with plastic now public enemy number one. This is a danger to farming. Placating the vegan, vegetarian and green lobbies is now a priority over real economic issues related to farming and food.

We will see, after Brexit, the impact of losing the influence of the European farming lobby on decisions implemented in the UK. This political neglect of agriculture has to change, but how to achieve that when Westminster is calling the shots is not clear.

It was a Chinese curse to say 'may you live in interesting times'. We certainly are, but despite that, let's hope 2019 finally brings certainty and new opportunities for Scottish agriculture.