The NFU has urged European leaders to hold their nerve on the CAP Health Check when they meet next week.

Speaking at Reading University on Monday (10 November), NFU president Peter Kendall said while the CAP had moved “dramatically” in recent years, ministers needed to drive through fundamental reforms to retain a competitive farming industry in Europe.

“The CAP has come a long way and continues to show a lead, with Europe going further than any other trading block in its liberalisation offer at the latest round of WTO negotiations,” he said.

“We are also seeing plans to direct unspent money that would have been used in managing markets internally to be used instead for helping agriculture and development in the poorer countries around the world.

“That is not to say that the CAP we have in place is the final, definitive version,and in that regard we were disappointed that the European Commission was not as ambitious as it might have been in advocating full decoupling of all support payments.”

Mr Kendall said market orientation, commonality and simplification needed to be the key principles to the Health Check.

“We now find in the current climate of volatile markets some countries back-tracking on the removal of coupled support payments and seeking more flexibility on national envelopes.

“This damages the market within Europe and impacts very much on farmers within the UK,” he said.

Mr Kendall also called on the UK government to take a more constructive approach to the CAP.

“Our government could play a far more effective role in shaping the future direction of the CAP if it did not sometimes give the impression that it would like to see it scrapped.

“The CAP is here to stay, and if we want to see it evolve in a sensible way then the UK government needs to play its part.”