The European Parliament has backed a European Commission proposal to limit direct Common Agricultural Policy payments to any one farm at €300,000.

MEPs also want to see a substantial reduction in payments to farms receiving more than €150,000 in direct payments.

The European Parliament is also seeking reform of the CAP to include a 25% top-up on payments to young farmers.

Supporters of the measures approved today claim they strike the right balance between securing supplies of high quality food and environmental concerns.

MEPs want a third of each country's national budget for direct payments to farmers to depend on compliance with what are termed "greening measures", such as crop diversification, maintaining permanent pasture and grassland and the creation of "eco-focus" zones.

Critics say the package of measures backed by the European Parliament is a missed opportunity to make a decisive move towards sustainable farming.

Green MEPs also criticised the decision to support maintaining export refunds, which they argue allow Europe to dump food on fragile markets in developing countries.

The final shape of the reform of the CAP will be decided in three-way negotiations between the European Parliament, the European Commission and EU farm ministers.