Food, glorious food (Nation)

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In May 2018, SPICe posted a blog on Scotland becoming a Good Food Nation.  This blog provides a brief summary of some of the activity in this area since the original post.

Programme for Scotland 2018-19

In the Programme for Scotland 2018-19 Delivering for Today, Investing for Tomorrow, published on 4 September 2018, the Scottish Government outlined plans to “strengthen Scotland’s brand as a Good Food Nation at home and abroad”.  It stated:

“The food and drink industry is a major contributor to Scotland’s economy, with a turnover of around £14 billion each year and accounting for around 1 in 4 manufacturing jobs. We have nearly 17,000 food and drink businesses employing over 111,000 people. We will continue to support the sector to grow sustainably and inclusively through the industry-led strategy, Ambition 2030.Food and drink exports are now at record levels of £6 billion a year but Brexit threatens to dislocate trade from our biggest international market. We will do all we can to reduce that disruption and enhance and strengthen Scotland’s brand as a Good Food Nation at home and abroad.”

Subsequent activity

The following week, on 11 September 2018, the Scottish Government published the report Good Food Nation: programme of measures which provided an update on the progress made on Scotland’s Good Food Nation ambitions.

This was followed a week later by a Scottish Government debate on celebrating Scotland’s food and drink success story.  The Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing MSP, opened the debate by saying:

“Let me seek to be helpful by re-emphasising the Scottish Government’s commitment to providing legislation to underpin Scotland’s status as a good food nation. I am pleased to reaffirm today our clear commitment to introduce legislation in the current session of Parliament […] Our vision is for Scotland to be a good food nation by 2025—a place where people from every walk of life take pride and pleasure in, and benefit from, the food that they produce, buy, cook, serve and eat”.

Scottish Government consultation

On 21 December 2018, the Scottish Government published a consultation setting out proposals for Good Food Nation legislation. The consultation ran until 18 April 2019.

Whilst the consultation was underway, on 16 January 2019, the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy responded to an oral question from Ross Greer MSP on how the Scottish Government would engage stakeholders and the public with the consultation.  An extract of the response and subsequent question are copied below:

The Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy (Fergus Ewing): The publication on 21 December 2018 of our “Consultation on Good Food Nation Proposals for Legislation” represented an important step forward in the move towards Scotland’s becoming a Good Food Nation. The Scottish Government has invited more than 300 stakeholders and interested parties to respond to the consultation […]

Ross Greer: In preparing its report last year, the Scottish food coalition engaged more than 800 people in 160 conversations, to hear about what living in a Good Food Nation meant to them. The top two concerns were the affordability of a healthy diet and the environmental impact of our food. […]

Will the cabinet secretary confirm how the Scottish Government has taken such concerns into account in planning and designing the Good Food Nation consultation and how it has met its commitments to open government?

Fergus Ewing: We welcome the responses to our consultation. We have encouraged more than 300 stakeholders and interested parties to respond, and I take this opportunity to seek responses from members, and perhaps from political parties, in the chamber […]”.

Latest position

With the consultation period now closed, the Scottish Government have advised that the consultation responses are currently being analysed and after that has been done, Ministers will decide on the next steps.  There is currently no agreed timeline for a Bill, beyond the previous commitment that it will be in this parliamentary session.

Scottish Parliament debate

On 16 May 2019, the Scottish Parliament held a debate on the Impact of Brexit on Scotland’s Food and Drink.

Other activity related to Good Food Nation

  • In March 2017, Scotland Food & Drink Partnership published their Ambition 2030 report, outlining an industry-led strategy to grow the value and reputation of Scottish farming, fishing, food and drink. The strategy will target key markets, boost innovation, focus on skills, and support local producers – with plans to double the value of the industry to £30 billion by 2030.
  • In December 2017 the Scottish Government’s Food Commission published its final report with recommendations, though the Commission itself held its last meeting in June 2018.
  • On 5 February 2019, Nourish Scotland published a blog called ‘Good Food Nation Bill consultation – what does it all mean?’. Nourish Scotland also published Scotland’s Food Atlas which maps out 13 different elements of Scotland’s food system, and considers a more sustainable future for them all.
  • On 15 April 2019, the Scottish Human Rights Commission published their report ‘Change the law to protect the right to food for all‘ calling for access to food to be enshrined in law in Scotland, to protect people from rising food insecurity and the impacts of Brexit. The report was submitted in response to the Scottish Government Good Food Nation proposals.
  • The RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission is currently convening different kinds of conversations, bringing together citizens, producers, businesses and academics from different sectors and with diverse perspectives. The work includes a devolved Scottish inquiry.
  • The independent inquiry on Food, Farming and Climate – FOOD 1.5, due to commence in May 2019, is designed to build consensus on the pathway for Scotland’s food, farming, and land-use sectors in the context of climate change. It will be co-chaired by Mike Robinson (Chief Executive, Royal Scottish Geographical Society) and Nigel Miller (former President of NFU Scotland).
  • SEFARI, funded by the Scottish Government to carry out strategic research on topics including food, recently published a blog on ‘What we eat, and meeting our climate change commitments’.

Rebecca Bartlett, Enquiries Officer

Blog Image: Good Food Nation logo Nourish Scotland 

Blog Image: “fruit” by Danny Nicholson is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0