Its claim was made in a policy paper - launched by NFU President Peter Kendall yesterday (Tuesday March 4) in Brussels - on the CAP after 2013.
The paper's launch coincides with the preparation by the EU of a new CAP framework policy before the end of this year when its plans for the revised CAP will be published.
NFU head of economics and international affairs Tom Hind, speaking at a press conference held last week ahead of the white paper launch, said: "We need to ensure that the views of farmers and growers are represented in that debate."
"That's why we wanted to bring something out in the spring of 2010."
Kendall said at the launch that the CAP must remain a centrally-funded policy.
"Without a Common Agricultural Policy many member states would simply put in place their own policy measures that could distort the single market in agricultural goods. This in turn has been one of the major successes of the EU."
Peter Kendall added: "The key challenge for the next reform is to start to address the functioning of the market, to make it fairer and more balanced so that farmers stand a much better chance of making profitable returns.
"Until then, direct support payments to farmers will remain a crucial component of the policy, helping farmers to deal with market shocks as well as supporting them in meeting the higher standards of production that are expected of European farmers."
The paper also suggests the CAP after 2013 should include several additional measures pertinent to growers, including:
- a significant increase in agricultural (and horticultural) R&D to "help deliver greater productivity"
- a legally-enforceable EU code of conduct aimed at grocery chains and food manufacturers that prevents abusive practices
- an EU-wide legislative framework for supply contracts between farmers and buyers (food manufactuers) to ensure that the contractual rights and obligations between both parties are specified, balanced and fair
- help producer organisation POs in the horticultural sector to focus on market management and professional development