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The Good Food Nation Bill

Campaigning for a Good Food Nation Bill

Volunteer Opportunity: Good Food Nation Ambassador

Scotland boasts an incredible larder of food and drink – but what is the truth behind the marketing? The Scottish Food Coalition believe that our food system needs to be fairer, greener, healthier and more democratic.

This winter, Scottish Government is expected to ask for all of our opinions on how we become a Good Food Nation through a government consultation. The Scottish Food Coalition is mounting a campaign to ensure that everyone has a chance to make their voices heard. That’s why we are recruiting Good Food Nation Ambassadors to engage with their local communities, increase awareness and momentum for the consultation and campaign for a brighter future for Scotland’s food system. 

Interested in getting involved? Click here for more information.

A Bill to transform our food system

At Nourish, along with the Scottish Food Coalition, we have been campaigning for a new food Bill that will provide a new framework for our food system. At the moment, agriculture, planning, social security, or public health policies and laws are mostly done in silos, but we can’t fix the interrelated issues that plague our food system without looking at the bigger picture and joining up the dots. We want the Good Food Nation Bill to enable a coherent and connected approach to food policy, which facilitates a just transition to a fair, healthy and sustainable food system.

You can listen to a short podcast about Nourish and the Good Food Nation Bill here.

A Bill that is shaped by everyone who cares about food

We have been calling on the Scottish Government to listen to people when developing the Good Food Nation Bill. We want this Bill to be a chance for everyone to shape Scotland’s food system, so earlier this year, with the Scottish Food Coalition, 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.

The Kitchen Table Talks were a huge success: over 800 people shared their views with us, demonstrating a huge appetite for a national conversation about food. We summarised the responses in ‘A Seat at the Table: Becoming a Good Food Nation is everyone’s business’. Following the launch of A Seat at the Table, the Scottish Food Coalition ran an e-action calling on the First Minister to ‘Bring on the Bill’ and host a real national conversation on food. Click on the image below to find out more!

A Seat at the Table: Becoming a Good Food Nation is everyone's business - Kitchen Table Talk Report by the Scottish Food Coalition

Why legislation?

Our food system is leaving many people behind: from those experiencing food insecurity or working in the food industry with low wages and insecure working conditions, to those coping with diet-related ill health, and to the large numbers of food producers struggling to make a living. Food is also a major contributor to climate change and biodiversity loss, and is driving global soil quality loss and antibiotic resistance.

Legislation can change this, by setting the direction of travel towards a fair, healthy and sustainable food system. Establishing the core purpose of the food system in law, with a system of governance that ensures progress and accountability, can catalyse a transformation in how our food system works.

A whole system approach is needed, so that the Good Food Nation Bill can create a coherent framework for joined-up policies that ensure people’s fundamental human rights and the integrity of our planet are promoted today and into the future.

Our key asks for the Good Food Nation Bill

There are 5 key elements that we want to see in the Good Food Nation Bill. These 5 key asks have been developed with our partners in the Scottish Food Coalition and represent our common position.

1. Incorporate the Right to Food into Scots Law

We all have a right to food in international law, but without protection in Scottish law these rights can’t shape policy or practice, and can’t be enforced in Scotland. The right to food is a right for everyone to be able to eat well, and to a food system that treats people and planet fairly. This means food should be accessible to people both financially and geographically, food should be adequate in terms of its nutritional content, safety, and cultural appropriateness, and food should be available by way of resources, infrastructure and a healthy environment that enables people to produce food now and into the future.

This is not yet a reality in Scotland, so we want a right to food in Scots law, to create a legal framework that respects, protects, and fulfils food rights.

2. An Independent Statutory Body

The food system touches on a wide range of issues across several cabinet portfolios. To become a Good Food Nation will require more than words on paper. We want the Scottish Parliament to establish an independent body which will have the authority to ensure the implementation of the Good Food Nation Bill.

This Statutory Food Commission would provide expertise on realising the right to food, scrutinise relevant policies, report on the state of the food system, and ensure coherence across Government. It would facilitate public participation in food policy and be charged with overseeing a democratic and rights-based approach to food.

3. Cross-cutting National Food Plans

The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 imposes a duty on the Scottish Government to publish a Report on Policies and Proposals every 5 years, in which they propose how each department will contribute to climate change mitigation. We want the same system for food.

We want a requirement that every five years the Scottish Ministers consult on and collectively agree a plan for food, farming and fishing in Scotland. This will help join up policies that touch on food.

5. Sectoral measures and targets

The Good Food Nation Bill should include specific programmatic measures and statutory targets to stimulate immediate action on some of the challenges of our food system. This could include targets such as an x% reduction in household food insecurity; x% reduction in adult and childhood obesity; x% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the food system; x% of food and drink businesses paying the living wage; x% reduction in routine preventative antibiotic use on livestock; and others – aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.

4. Duties on Public Bodies

The success of becoming a Good Food Nation will depend on the engagement and coordination of all levels and branches of Government. To ensure this, we want the Bill to set duties on local authorities, health boards and other public bodies to adhere to the right to food framework and incorporate the priorities established in the National Food Plan into their strategic decision-making and service provision.

Read the full Food Coalition position paper

Progress so far in Holyrood

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.”

There is significant cross-party support for the Good Food Nation Bill. 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. More recently, we launched the Kitchen Table Talks report in front of Parliament and 11 MSPs from all the main parties came to greet us and showed their support by posing with our ‘I want to Live in a Good Food Nation’ placard.