The new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will have to have a higher level of environmental ambition, the European Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan, has said.

Speaking at this week's Agricultural Outlook Conference, he said that this is because it is the right thing to do.

"Yes, the CAP makes great demands of our farmers when it comes to maintaining food safety and quality standards.

"We have the most stringent requirements of any agri-food system on the planet. And that will not change."

If anything, the expectations will only become greater.

"Our farmers and related actors will have to focus on the challenge and innovate as never before. But this challenge also provides huge and unquestionable opportunities for our producers.

"Because when they start to lead from the front in terms of sustainable intensification, they will be delivering products of the highest quality with impeccable environmental credentials. That's what the market wants."

Commissioner Hogan said that innovation leads to even greater levels of quality, which is our key selling point abroad.

He mentioned the noteworthy success of European agri-food exports in recent years and that the EU has a huge opportunity to build on this in the coming years.

Success abroad means success at home: As President Juncker pointed out, every €1 billion of exports generates 14,000 jobs for our people.

"Given that, in the period October 2015 to September 2016, EU agri-food exports reached a record value of €129.9 billion, we can say with confidence that a smarter, climate-friendly agriculture can deliver even more vital jobs for our rural communities," he said.

The Commissioner said that in modernising and simplifying the CAP, the EU has an opportunity to shape a policy that meets the challenges of today and tomorrow.

"The European Commission does not have a monopoly of wisdom about the ideal policy for the future.

"We want your input and active and constructive engagement, beginning with the public consultation, which I expect to launch early in the New Year."