The Countryside Alliance has launched its rural manifesto, calling on politicians to back British farmers and food producers.

The document will be the focus of the alliance’s campaigning in the run-up to the next general election, due to take place before June 2010.

Changes in five key areas would make a real and lasting difference to the countryside, says the manifesto, which aims to put rural issues at the heart of government policy.

The five areas are:

  • Housing – Promote local solutions to the lack of affordable rural housing
  • Education – Enable all children to gain a practical understanding of the countryside
  • Farming – Support British farmers and producers
  • Country Pursuits – Repeal the Hunting Act and champion country pursuits
  • Services – Ensure an accessible and reliable rural transport network

Alliance chairman Kate Hoey MP said: “Our countryside is a national treasure admired around the world but it is also a home and workplace for millions of us.

“Yet those who live and work there can be forgiven for feeling at times that it does not receive the political support it deserves.”

Ms Hoey, who is also Labour MP for Vauxhall, south London, said the manifesto’s aims were deliberately realistic and achievable.

“In these challenging times a vital, working and thriving countryside for the benefit of the whole nation is more necessary than ever.”