Exclusive: charities get Good Food Nation plans back on track


Intense lobbying from charities grouped around the Scottish Food Coalition will see the bill reappear on the legislative schedule

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19th September 2018 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Charities scored a major victory as they forced the Scottish Government to revive landmark legislation which will tackle the country’s food problems.

There was dismay when the SNP administration, in its Programme for Government (PfG), appeared to roll back on a commitment made in 2017 to introduce a good food nation bill.

This would have been aimed at tackling Scotland’s connected food challenges, setting out measures to attack child poverty, obesity and the environmental impact of food production and waste.

Instead, this year’s PfG saw the adoption of a “Good Food Nation programme” which would consider “what legislative measures might be required to underpin our ambition”.

However, intense lobbying from charities grouped around the Scottish Food Coalition will see the bill reappear on the legislative schedule.

A debate in the Scottish Parliament saw cabinet secretary Fergus Ewing reaffirming the commitment.

He said: “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.”

This was backed by a vote which was supported by all parties.

The Scottish Government will now bring forward a good food nation bill within the next year, which has the right to food at its heart, joins-up all aspects of food policy, and includes time-bound targets for areas of policy which impact on food.

Pete Ritchie, executive director at Nourish Scotland and co-convenor of the Scottish Food Coalition, which includes the likes of RSPB Scotland, Obesity Action Scotland, Unison, WWF Scotland, Citizens Advice Scotland and the Trussell Trust – said: “We were delighted to witness such a high quality of debate about food in the Scottish Parliament. The outcome of the vote shows unique cross-party consensus and support for a good food nation bill, which is a powerful place to start from in Scotland’s attempt to tackle complex and interconnected issues.

“The Scottish Food Coalition very much looks forward to working with the Scottish Government and all opposition parties to ensure this bill achieves its full potential.”

Vicki Swales, head of land use policy at RSPB Scotland and co-convenor of the Scottish Food Coalition, added: “From the impacts of farming on wildlife to the large amount of food we waste, our food system has big consequences for our environment.

“We already know many of the solutions to these problems but need to see these adopted at scale and that requires Government leadership. At long last, we now have a firm commitment from the Scottish Government to bring forward the good food nation bill; we see this as the way to bring about real change.”

The Scottish Government will now prepare a public consultation on the proposed legislation.