Increased levels of compulsory modulation and a cap on the amount of single farm payment individual farmers can receive are likely to form part of next year’s CAP “health check”.

EU agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel is considering a plan to increase the current 5% level of EU modulation by 2% a year from 2010 to 2013, leading to a new rate of 13% by 2013.

If this was agreed – and several member states are already lining up against the proposal – then UK farmers could expect to see some reduction in the level of national modulation, as agreed by Brussels earlier this year.

Following an informal meeting of farm ministers in Porto, Portugal earlier this week, it has also emerged that the commission is looking to introduce a progressive system of SFP capping. Farmers receiving between E100,000 and E200,000 would face a 10% cut between E200,000 and E300,000, a 25% cut and over E300,000, a 45% cut.

Capping has been part of the proposals for each of the past three CAP reforms – the MacSharry reforms of 1992, Agenda 2000 and the 2003 Fischler reforms. On each occasion it has been booted out during negotiations, largely in the face of opposition from the UK, Germany and France.

But the latest plan says capped money could go into a member state’s rural development fund, which might make it more acceptable.