Political parties must commit to more than £4bn a year in funding for land management subsidies in England, a countryside leader has warned.

With polls suggesting Labour has gained a lead over the Tories in some of the most rural parts of the country, Victoria Vyvyan, president of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), said there is “everything to play for”.

But she said a central issue for rural voters is clarity on the budget for the Environmental Land Management (ELMS) scheme which pays for public goods such as healthy soil and wildlife habitat, which has replaced EU-era subsidies paid mostly on the amount of land farmed.

Other key issues for the countryside include affordable housing, she said, with the CLA wanting to see a small number of houses built in a large number of villages, and enabling businesses and communities to thrive.

The Scottish Farmer: Victoria Vyvyan, CLA president.

She warned that politicians “helicoptered” in to stand in constituencies would find it hard as there would be support for people communities know have stood up for the area in the past.

Earlier this year, the CLA revealed surveys that showed Tory support in rural areas had collapsed and Labour had established a narrow lead, findings backed this week by new polling for the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU).

Ms Vyvyan said, after speaking to members of county meetings for the CLA: “It is certainly true that they’re very disillusioned, perhaps with such a long Tory Government.

“They’re very fed up with this adversarial rubbishing of each other kind of campaigning.”

But she added: “I don’t think particularly the farming community is disillusioned with ELMS any longer,” after a successful rollout of the sustainable farming initiative part of the policy last year.

“The big ask has got to be the budget” for ELMS, she said.

It had been £2.4bn a year, without increases for high inflation in the last three years – while a separate pot of more than £650m for nature work to tackle climate change was due to be folded into it.

She said: “The budget has to be there at north of £4bn, and actually, for the effect, for the bang for your buck, that’s not an enormous budget for a pretty enormous sector.

“Our concern is, unlike a previous occasion where it was set for a whole parliament, there’s been really quite an unnerving silence on the subject.”

Along with funding for environmental land management schemes, she said: “Affordable homes would be an issue, because it’s very difficult if your own next generation can’t afford to live in the place that they’ve grown up.

“The CLA has a rural housing policy which is about a small number of houses in a large number of villages.”

The other side of planning is to allow commercial growth, she said, adding: “We are very sensitive about not being made into a museum.”

She urged would-be MPs in rural areas to get out into the countryside and speak to people.

“If you are standing for a rural constituency, it’s not a big ask that you are ready to answer some quite detailed questions about a positive future for the countryside.

“And I’m not sure how forgiving voters will be about being ignored. This is their chance, once every five years, to get some answers.

“I think it’s going to be quite hard for people being helicoptered into constituencies.”

She suggested the “home team, the known person, is actually going to have quite a strong pull, because they’re known and liked in their local constituencies”, though she added there were many constituencies where there was no incumbent and urged candidates: “Don’t hide.”