NFU president Peter Kendall has called on the government to fight the corner for British farmers in Europe as they face an estimated £1.3bn black hole caused by last year’s extreme weather.

Drought in the world’s key production regions had caused rocketing animal feed costs while in stark contrast at home, a wash-out summer, further compounded by a sodden autumn and winter, had hammered production, Kendall said in a new year statement.

This year would see protracted negotiations for both the EU budget and a reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and in years like 2012 it was clear that the support farming received from the CAP was an absolute lifeline, Kendall said.

“If there is a reduction in these payments, it should take place evenly across Europe’s single market,” he said.

Already, an English dairy farmer, on a typical 100 hectare farm, receives €20,000 a year less than a Danish or Dutch competitor, he added.  

“It would be helpful if ministers could explain how they think English farmers can face the challenge of more hostile weather events with only a fraction of the support given to their closest competitors in Europe.”