THE PRIME Minister Tony Blair has called a General Election for May 5.

Political pundits believe the outcome will be the hardest to predict since the election of 1992, with turnout unpredictable, opinion polls at odds, and plenty of unusual campaigning planned.

The NFU has responded to the announcement with an immediate plea for all political parties to put agriculture and the rural economy at the centre of their election programmes.

“This is a time of great change. Whatever party wins the election, we need effective partnerships to take the agenda forward for us all to benefit from a sustainable future,” said NFU president Tim Bennett.

The NFU believes the industry has the potential for a greater role to play in reducing the impact of climate change.

The union has called for a greater emphasis to be placed on non-food and energy crops which help to mitigate global warming, but also provide business and research opportunities.

The NFU said it wanted a stepping up of the development of biofuels, improved food labelling and a tightening of the rules governing the relationship between purchasers and suppliers.