The General election campaign is underway and as usual the economy is the key topic dominating the conversation. But what does feel different this time is the growing realisation by voters of the dangers posed by the climate and nature crises, the effect this is also having on our everyday lives and the need for politicians to address this. None feel the effects of these crises more than farmers and the knock-on impact on food prices will be felt by us all.

We need farmers and nature to produce food. We rely on insects to perform their job as pollinators, hedgerows to store carbon, and healthy soils to grow our crops. Abundant nature is vital for a sustainable farming system and for our food security. Farming has always evolved as society’s needs have changed. Today a growing community of farmers around the UK are pioneering new methods which are helping to lock carbon into the landscapes, deal with the impact of extreme weather caused by climate change - and bring nature back. All while producing food in a profitable way. Imagine what could be possible if nature-friendly farming was properly supported.

Image: Habitat creation at RSPB Hope Farm (c) RSPB

With 70% of our landscape farmed, and huge impacts from our overseas footprint, getting our food and farming system right will be essential to meeting our nature and climate targets. The UK Government disburses £3.5bn a year in agriculture funding, however, this funding is not enough and is only guaranteed until the the forthcoming election in July. We are calling for the next Westminster government to restore wildlife to our countryside and support farmers by significantly increasing the agriculture budget.

Image: A curlew in flight over farmland in Wales (c)

Farming is a devolved issue and so this election may seem removed from the very live debate around farming in NI, Scotland and Wales. However, decisions at Westminster have real ramifications for the farming budgets in all four nations. The uplift in funding we are calling for will ensure we can fund nature-friendly farming properly everywhere in the UK. It must be coupled with steps to ensure this funding effectively delivers for wildlife. This will ensure agri-environment schemes are able to make a significant contribution to the achievement of national, UK and international targets for nature. In turn this will help more farmers do more for nature, and help secure our future food security in the face of a changing climate.

Nature can’t vote – but you can. Let your candidates know they must urgently commit to protecting and restoring our natural world. By properly investing in nature-friendly farming we can help support farmers so they get a fair deal and so does nature.