Farming needs to look beyond the current political confusion and consider how the industry will cope in future with lower levels of support.
While many things are uncertain, the need to increase productivity and make businesses more efficient is a constant.
That is the view of consultants Andersons, which launched its Outlook 2020 at Brooksby Melton College.
Writing in the introduction to the publication, analysts said: “The phrase 2020 is often associated with perfect vision. Clarity of foresight is even more difficult than usual in these turbulent political times.
“However, it is possible to look beyond the current upheavals and see the big issues that agriculture needs to address in the years ahead."
And one of the key issues is profitability, said Sebastian Graff-Baker, partner for Andersons Midlands.
“This is an industry hooked on production but not on productivity," said Mr Graff-Baker.
"It has a vested interest in retaining production because that is where its income comes from."
Yet there was a sharp divide between the best and the worst performers.
Some businesses would make money even without support payments, while others would continue to lose money even with them.
He added: “It is basic business management and attention to detail. We continually see businesses that are making money with one enterprise but losing it in another.
“It is often their fixed and overhead costs that prevent them from concentrating on the profitable parts. Temperamentally they simply do not want to reduce scale.”
Writing in the report, Andersons analysts said – whatever trajectory Brexit takes – funding is likely to fall and farmers will be expected to ‘do more’ to qualify for payments.
In a Brexit-less world it suggests the environment would be the main agenda.
The authors added: "Agriculture has been grappling with the ‘local’ environment in terms of biodiversity and pollution for many years and will continue to do so.
But now a more global factor is in play, with the rising factor of climate change."
Casual labour accounts for 60 per cent of workforce
THE Andersons report also highlighted the industry’s continuing reliance on casual labour.
It accounts for 60 per cent of the workforce and most casual workers are migrants.
The total farming workforce has fallen by 135,000 people to 478,000 since 1998, with no drop in output.
That points to improved overall productivity, but the authors also noted the industry contains ’pockets of excellence’ which disguise the fact the UK has been slipping down the league table in recent years.
“Technology can play a part in addressing this issue, but the need for good people within the sector is equally, if not more, important," said the report.
“These issues are not going to be solved overnight or, in most cases, by individuals on their own. Collaboration is another area where UK farming needs to improve."