Farm representatives from across the EU will push the European Commission to agree to a 0% set-aside rate for 2008.

Paul Temple, NFU vice president and a member of COPA-COGECA the European farmer organisation, said world stocks were already at their lowest level for 30 years in 2006.

But with floods in the UK and drought elsewhere in Europe the EU harvest could be down a further 6mt which would mean a further cut in grain stocks.

COPA-COGECA wants this situation alleviated by setting the obligatory set-aside rate – currently 10% in Europe – at zero for the 2008 harvest.

It also wants a decision announced in September so growers can plan their 2008 cropping accordingly.

Mr Temple said: “We need set-aside at zero per cent across Europe. Not only will our farmers benefit but millers, maltsters and animal feed manufacturers are all in agreement.

“Obviously, some will stress the need to retain set-aside on environmental grounds. But all farmland is subject to cross compliance.

“Set-aside is a market management tool and has an incidental benefit to the environment, whereas environmental schemes in this country have a substantial and designed benefit.”

COPA-COGECA has over 70 member organisations and represents the interests of 11 million farmers and their cooperatives in 25 of the 27 member states.