Government adviser Donald Curry has called on farmers in England to make the best of the situation they find themselves in as a result of what look set to be the highest modulation rates in Europe.

The government announced last week that the voluntary modulation rate in England would be 12% in 2007 rising to 14% in 2010. This will be on top of the EU compulsory modulation rate of 5%.

Sir Don said that it was “unfortunate” that producers in different parts of the UK and Europe would face different rates.

But he said that English farmers needed to make sure that they claimed their share of modulated funds by taking part in one of the environmental stewardship schemes.

“Farmers must put themselves forward to access funding. We are where we are, and rather than see it as a depressing picture we’ve got to make the most of it and harness the resources we do have to best effect.”

Sir Donald said the real reason for such a high rate of voluntary modulation was the UK’s poor rural development allocation from Europe.

The UK’s budget rebate from Europe was another major issue, as any extra spending on rural development reduced what the Treasury got back from the EU.

“In my view, if [EU farm commissioner] Mariann Fischer Boel is looking to move to a single common rate of modulation across Europe, we need to do that in parallel with a review of the total funding available to England,” he said.

“We also should look at surrendering the rebate in return for additional [rural development] funding. It is high politics but we’ve got the funding deficit because of it.”