Farming leaders are launching a PR push in a bid to boost agriculture's image.

Why Farming Matters has been drawn up by the NFU as a manifesto for agriculture, with the public, Downing Street and opinion formers at Westminster in the organisation's sights.

The campaign centres around a report that calculates the benefits society gets from the farming industry.

It argues food production cannot be safely outsourced to other parts of the world and claims farmers spend £400m of their own money - plus substantial chunks of their time - looking after the countryside. Producers can also play a role in cutting carbon emissions by growing crops for biofuels, it says. The climate for promoting agriculture is thought to ideal now because of the popularity of local food and awareness of issues such as food miles.

"Whenever I go and talk to politicians, they still think we're after more money," said NFU president Peter Kendall. "This campaign is not about what farming needs from the country, but what farming can do for the country."

The campaign will be split into single issues. The NFU will run a Why Dairy Farming Matters campaign with the WI in April, Biofuels and local food will also get their own events.