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The Good Food Nation Bill

Campaigning for a Good Food Nation Bill

A Bill to transform our food system

Nourish, along with the Scottish Food Coalition, have been 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 expecting the consultation on the Good Food Nation Bill to start soon and have been reaching out to civil society and politicians to ensure it’s transformative legislation that works for people.

You can hear short podcast about Nourish and the Good Food Nation Bill here.

What are your top 5 priorities for the #GoodFoodNation Bill?

The Scottish Food Coalition is inviting people from across Scotland to get together for Kitchen Table Talks to discuss the future of food in Scotland.

We want this Bill to be a chance for everyone to shape Scotland’s food system, so we developed Kitchen Table Talks to hear what really matters to people about food, and what they want the Good Food Nation Bill to achieve.

Kitchen Table Talks, #GoodFoodNation, What are you top 5 priorities for the Bill?

If you want to stay in the loop on the campaign and hear about other opportunities to get involved:

Background information

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:

  1. include a Statement of Food Rights and Responsibilities, similar to the one drafted for the Land Reform Act.
  2. 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
  3. 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?

In 2016, 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.
See also

Scotland’s Good Food Nation Policy: Nourish consultation events (2014)


Where are we at?

The Scottish Government have repeated their commitment to a Good Food Nation Bill on various occasions, including a statement by Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, 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.”

The Fairer Scotland Action Plan also 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

In the first half of 2017, the Scottish Food Coalition organised 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. These events were very well attended and successfully built momentum for the Good Food Nation agenda.


Nourish continues our campaign to pressure the Government and Parliament to be ambitious in drafting the Good Food Nation Bill. We are 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 Nation Bill background briefing (October 2017)

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).

Discussion documents from the Scottish Food Coalition (Dec 2016)