Thousands braved scorching temperatures for the first day of the Royal Show yesterday as politicians set about wooing the farming vote.
Tory leader David Cameron and David Miliband, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, both attended conferences and toured displays and stands.
Mr Cameron took the opportunity to look at alternative crops, opportunities available to farmers in composting and recycling sectors and discussed the newly reopened export market. He also supported the Farmers Weekly Food Miles campaign and met with stockmen.
The first day of the show, which is being held at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire until tomorrow, saw emphasis on the environment and education, with Mr Miliband delivering a speech about the need to build a "sustainable future economically as well as environmentally".
Visitors to the show were treated to a 1.6 acre virtual farm feature, which gave them a chance to find out about farming's role in shaping the countryside and how the Government is prioritising grant funding.
The display will feature on the showground for a minimum of three years and is hosted by the Rural Development Service, English Nature and the Countryside Alliance.
Nigel Broadhurst, from the Rural Development Service, said: "We see this as an exciting opportunity to make a real step change in how we explain the benefits of these new environmental schemes, both to farmers and to the wider rural community."
A new feature at the show was an area dedicated to smallholders and owners of small family farms.
Run by land management consultancy NewLandOwner, the area gave smallholders and farmers invaluable advice and information. Robert Jeffery, NewLandOwner director, said: "The smallholder area is an extremely important development for the Royal Show and I expect it to grow rapidly as the number of new entrant farmers increase daily.
"Half of all farms sold last year were to buyers without farming experience."
Other firsts in the show's 167-year history included the debut of a coloured horse category in the equine programme.
Debbie Dann, Royal Show equine specialist, said: "Coloured horses have become increasingly popular in recent years.
"We felt that now was the right time to introduce this popular new section, creating an interesting experience for competitors and spectators."
In addition to the regular displays and stalls, visitors to the show today will be able to watch the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery in action and a falconry display by Steve Wright, of Heart of England Falconry. n Opening hours are from 9am to 7pm.
Tickets cost £17 at the gate. ..SUPL: