Campaigning for a Good Food Nation Bill
A Bill to transform our food system
In the September 2016 Programme for Government the SNP annuounced they would continue with their manifesto commitment to bring forward a Good Food Nation Bill.
Nourish, along with the Scottish Food Coalition, have beeen campaigning for framework legislation for the food system to ensure a coherent and connected approach to food policy, which facilitates a just transition to a fair, healthy and sustainable food system.
We’re excited to see the Scottish Government introduce this Bill and will be reaching out to civil society and politicians in the coming months to ensure it’s transformative legislation that works for people.
What are we aiming for?
This is potentially world-leading legislation, connecting numerous government departments including social justice, health, agriculture, environment and rural development. Reading across so many government departments is not something that has been done before at Holyrood. However, there are some useful parallels to inform our ambitions. We would like the Good Food Nation Bill to:
- include a Statement of Food Rights and Responsibilities, similar to the one drafted for the Land Reform Act.
- establish a Principal of Sustainable Development, which ensures the needs of the present are met without compromising the needs of future generations, similar to the Welsh Well-being of Future Generations Act
- establish a statutory Food Commission, with a civil society participation mechanism to promote involvement in policy making, ensure transparency and collaboration across government departments
In a guest blog to the Food Ethics Council, Nourish’s Advocacy Manager Elli explains what a Right to Food would look like in Scotland and how this Bill could protect and progress such a right.
In January 2017, the Scottish Food Coalition kicked off their Good Food Nation event series to explore the opportunity of the Good Food Nation Bill with expertise from around the world. Professor Corinna Hawkes inspired MSPs and civil servants at Holyrood and delivered a lively public seminar at the University of Edinburgh. Read more here, and download her presentation slides here.
Where does the idea come from?
The SNP, Scottish Labour and the Scottish Greens made manifesto commitments to a Bill that would read across food, farming, health and other issues. This was partly in response to the ‘Plenty’ report from the Scottish Food Coalition. Members of the Scottish Food Coalition include Nourish Scotland, RSPB, Unite, Unison, Soil Association, Scottish Crofting Federation and many more.
Legislation is needed to address:
- high levels of food insecurity and the reliance on food banks;
- low wages and insecure working conditions in many parts of the food industry;
- the ongoing challenge of diet-related illness, particularly diabetes, cancer and heart disease, and the impact of these illnesses on health inequalities including child attainment and quality of life;
- the contribution of our food system to the global environmental crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, soil quality loss, and antibiotic resistance.
The policy context for a Bill includes:
- the Good Food Nation Policy, which fell short of addressing the fundamental challenges linked to food insecurity, farming and health;
- a commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals;
- the recommendation of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in June 2016 for a strategic food policy to progress a rights-based approach to food;
- the recommendations of the independent Short Life Working Group on Food Poverty in June 2016 for the government to measure and commit to reducing household food insecurity and to support dignified access to food for all;
- the Scottish Government’s commitment to reducing child poverty;
- uncertainty on the future of farming subsidies and environmental schemes, particularly post 2020: and the current economic pressures on primary producers;
- the commitment by the Scottish Government to reduce food waste by 33% by 2025.
Where are we at?
Fergus Ewing confirmed at the Rural Economy Committee meeting on 29 June 2016 that the Bill would be cross-cutting:
“We are going to consult on a Good Food Nation Bill in 2017 and, in doing so, I hope to build a cross-party and stakeholder consensus. We want to enhance the national food policy with the vision of Scotland becoming a good food nation, where people from every walk of life take pride, pleasure and benefit from the food that they buy, serve and eat day by day. Work in shaping the course of the bill will involve colleagues and stakeholders in a number of areas across Government, including health, food standards, waste, social justice, agriculture, education and procurement. “
Roseanna Cunningham also confirmed this in her update in late July to the Environment, Land Reform and Climate Change committee.
The Scottish Government announced a Good Food Nation Bill in their Programme for Government. Read more here
The Fairer Scotland Action Plan confirms the Government’s commitment to working towards a Good Food Nation: “Over the term of this parliament, we will work to make Scotland a Good Food Nation by enabling more people to have access to affordable, healthy, nutritious food, in a dignified way.” Read here
The Scottish Food Coalition is organising a series of Parliamentary events to engage civil servants and politicians, and a parallel public seminar series with the University of Edinburgh, inviting expert speakers from around the world to discuss the opportunity of the Good Food Nation Bill to put our food system on a new footing. Get in touch with Bella to stay in the loop.
Nourish will also be running a campaign to pressure the Government and Parliament to be ambitious in drafting the Good Food Nation Bill. We will be advocating for the GFN bill to adopt a whole-system, rights-based approach to food. Get in touch with Elli to get involved.
Good Food Policies for Good Food Nations. Presentation by Professor Corinna Hawkes (January 2017)
Are there any Good Food Nations out there? By Laura Rose (2017).