Guide to responding: Call for views on the Good Food Nation Bill
The Good Food Nation Bill is currently being considered by the Scottish Parliament. It is currently in the first stage of consideration, this stage is led by the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee. The Committee members are currently reviewing the Bill and they want to hear your views on the Bill, and your thoughts on how it can be improved. The responses need to be submitted by 5th January 2022.
We have produced the response guide below to help you with some ideas that you may want to include in your response. Please do add your own perspective. Share your experiences of food system – from growing food to concerns about biodiversity, or challenges of accessing to healthy food.
The Bill as presented is not far reaching enough in scope or ambition, with no commitment to make necessary systemic changes to our food system or to hold Ministers accountable. As it stands, the narrow scope of the Bill makes it unfit to address the multiple food system issues facing Scotland: biodiversity loss; food insecurity; public health; workers’ rights and more.
A Good Food Nation Bill should be a strong framework Bill to provide the foundation for Scotland to take a global lead on food systems reform and shape subsequent food-related legislation and policy e.g. Public Health Bill, Circular Economy Bill, Agriculture Bill etc.
The bill should define the Right to Food, with a duty on Ministers to realise this right and also link the duties set out in the Bill to giving practical effect to the Right to Food. There should also be included a small number of high-level targets based on the Sustainable Development Goals similar to the Fuel Poverty and Climate Change Acts in 2019.
The Bill should establish a new Scottish Food Commission, similar in scope and operation to the Land Commission to provide independent scrutiny on decisions on food policy and measures to improve the food system. The framework provided by this Bill must ensure that the Right to Food is realised in Scotland and that the Scottish Government can be held accountable on making Scotland a Good Food Nation for all.
The right to food must be central to the Good Food Nation Bill, so the local and national Government and other public bodies are responsible for ensuring that every person has access, in a dignified and culturally appropriate manner, to nutritious, sustainable and safe food at all times.
This Bill can help to progress the right to food in the following ways:
- Including clear and strong language (as was done on the face of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018) defining the right to food and framing policy from a rights-based approach.
- Including clear duties on Ministers (as was done in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014) to keep under consideration whether there are any ways of further the Right to Food and to report to Parliament.
- Explain and provide a framework for the linkages between the national and local food plans proposed in the Bill and the principles of the right to foo.
- Establish an independent and statutory Food Commission to oversee the work of the Scottish Government in delivering upon the right to food.
The Equality and Human Rights Committee should examine this aspect of Bill to explore how the Good Food Nation Bill can advance human rights protection with regard to food in Scotland.
The Good Food Nation Bill should establish high-level policy principles and objectives for fixing Scotland’s food system, providing the overarching framework for what a Good Food Nation means in practice. This should then inform and underpin all future food-related legislation and policy – including but not limited to the 2023 Agriculture Bill, the Circular Economy Bill, the Environment Bill and future public health measures on food. A Local Food Strategy should be shaped by the purpose and principles set out in a Good Food Nation Bill to provide policy coherence across local authorities and to avoid a situation where different areas receive different public services.
A small number of ambitious and achievable targets should be set out on the face of the Bill. These signal a clear direction of travel and call for resources and policies to be aligned to achieve them – just like the 2045 net zero target. Here are some examples of targets:
- Ending severe household food insecurity by 2030
- Halving childhood obesity by 2030
- At least halving the environmental impact of the food system, including halving food waste by 2030
- Achieve the Scottish Dietary Goals by 2035
- End caging farmed animals by 2027 – in line with the EU’s commitment
- All workers in the food and drink sector paid at least the living wage; an extension of trade union representation, collective bargaining and trade union negotiated pay rates across the food sector and supply chain; the integration of these principles in procurement processes and contracts – by 2025
One of the key roles of an independent food commission is to work with both national and local government to develop and refine a core set of robust and practicable targets. Targets and indicators should be closely aligned with human rights, not least the right to food and the right to a healthy environment.
The national food plan by definition must read across many departments – and have implications for how those departments allocate their resources.
As such, the Health and Sport Committee, the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee and the Local Government and Communities Committee should input into the development of the Good Food Nation Bill, as it is entirely relevant to their remits.
An independent food commission should work with both national and local government to identify secondary legislation that will build upon the framework legislation and deliver on the objectives of the Bill.
The Good Food Nation Bill should legislate for a new Scottish Food Commission to provide expert advice and scrutiny to the Government, and help ensure Scotland’s journey to becoming a Good Food Nation is fair for everyone. A statutory food commission reads across all food-related issues, from the rights of migrant fisheries workers to community food-growing, from the unhealthy food environment to agroecology, from ending the need for food banks to the wider impacts of pesticides.
The Scottish Food Commission should be a standalone body, reporting and being accountable to Parliament. It should include a number of commissioners with a range of experience and skills who represent a breadth of interests and lived experiences. The process for appointing commissioners should be transparent. It would take a systems approach, recognising the need for joined-up policy across departments and between local and national government.
Activities could include:
- Undertaking research and make recommendations based on evidence and current progress towards targets.
- Producing an annual report on the state of Scotland’s food system and progress made on realising the right to food
- Facilitating and supporting partnership working to drive food systems change
- Supporting a dynamic process of citizen engagement and public consultation at both national and local level
The Scottish Land Commission is a useful model for a commission which has taken an active role in pushing forward a progressive agenda, commissioning research, engaging with stakeholders, hosting public meetings and roadshows.
Local government and health boards will deliver many of the practical actions to deliver a Good Food Nation, for example in; tackling food insecurity, improving public food, shaping the food environment, supporting the local food economy, influencing regional land use and reducing food waste. It is important that local authorities and health boards are adequately funded to deliver on these objectives and this public funding should be viewed as an investment, not as an additional cost.
In developing and implementing their food plans, local authorities and health boards should have duties similar to the national Government to deliver on the right to food. They should also use a common set of targets.
As it stands, the Bill does not provide opportunities to participate in the production of national and local good food nation plans. A Good Food Nation Bill must encourage active participation by stakeholders at both a local and national level (for example a Citizens Food Assembly).
Relevant authorities should use accessible and inclusive communication to work with people with lived experience in the design of Food plans and implementation, including formats such as Community Languages, BSL, Braille, Moon, Easy Read, clear and large print, and paper formats.
Additionally, the Government should be required to engage with communities whose right to food and health outcomes, in particular, are most likely to be at risk. These include, for example: refugees and asylum-seekers; people suffering from chronic illnesses; people working in the food system with low-paid or insecure jobs; people living in residential care or prison; disabled people, especially those who rely on social care providers for access to food. In order for Scotland to truly become a Good Food Nation, participatory policy and governance is essential.
Submitting your response
Responses to the Call for Views can be submitted via the Scottish Parliament’s website.
Access and respond here: https://yourviews.parliament.scot/recc/good-food-nation-scotland-bill/consultation/intro/. You will be asked to complete an ‘About You’ form with your name, email address and whether you are responding as an individual or as an organisation.