Guest post from Anna Brand, Land Use Policy Officer for RSPB Scotland, explains more about an important opportunity for Scottish producers to engage with a new consultation from the Scottish Government.

Tell the Scottish Government what you think

The Scottish Government are currently asking for views on proposed new laws for a Good Food Nation, ‘where people from every walk of life take pride and pleasure in, and benefit from, the food they produce, buy, cook, serve, and eat each day’ [1]. The Good Food Nation agenda aims to change our food system, ensuring that we produce, process, sell and consume food in a way that is fairer, healthier and more environmentally sustainable.

And where do we get our food from if not from farmers and crofters?

Image: (c) Jonathan Grey

One of the aims of the Good Food Nation vision is that ‘Scottish producers ensure that what they produce is increasingly healthy and environmentally sound’. With farmers and crofters being such a huge part of the food system, it is vital that your voices are heard.

The government’s consultation [2] focuses on creating a new law on food. If done right, a new law could help us create the right incentives for nature-friendly and environmentally sustainable farming, and better support farmers and crofters who are already doing fantastic things for wildlife.

It could facilitate shorter supply chains, which could better support rural communities and foster a greater connection to our food and where it comes from.

It could allow us to better scrutinise and correct inequalities and imbalances in the food supply chain, where farmers and crofters often get an unfair share of the benefits.

It could encourage consumers and public authorities like schools and hospitals to source high quality Scottish produce.

But to make these changes happen, the government needs to know that you care and what things Scottish producers need to be part of a fairer, healthier and greener food system. If you're in Scotland, you can have your say by responding to the Scottish Government’s proposals here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/good-food-nation-proposals-legislation/

Image: www.rspb-images.com

Stuck?

The questions may seem daunting, but don’t worry. It is fine to respond to just one or a couple of the questions, and we’d encourage you to make the government aware of any other thoughts you might have as part of your response. You can add these thoughts into any of the response boxes. If you need help with any of the questions, check out this guide to responding: http://www.foodcoalition.scot/guide-to-responding.html 

Pressed for time?

If you’re short on time, or don’t feel like you can respond to the consultation, why not check out our online e-action? This is a short and simple way of telling the government about your priorities: https://e-activist.com/page/36245/action/1

Want to know more? Here’s what we think

RSPB Scotland is part of the Scottish Food Coalition, a broad network of organisations working for a better food system for people and the environment. We are clear that we want a new law on food – called a framework bill – which would set a new direction for the food system as a whole.

We have 5 asks for this new law:

1. Give everyone the legal ‘right to food', because nobody should go hungry.

2. Set strong targets for improving the food system, like "cut food waste by 50%" or " pay all workers at least the living wage" by 2030.

3. Set new requirements for public bodies, so the food served in hospitals or schools is local, healthy, fair and environmentally friendly.

4. Write a Scottish National Food Plan, so we can all see exactly what steps government will take to make our food healthy, green and fair.

5. Create a statutory Food Commission, so we know there will always be someone to stop the government rolling back on their promises.

The government’s consultation has promised some of these things, but not all. A national food plan or policy is a big part of the government’s proposals, and would see requirements on public bodies. We are pleased that the Scottish Government is willing to take these steps.

However, we haven’t yet secured a right to food in Scotland, which would mean that everyone has a right to good, nutritious, accessible, and sustainable food. And we still need to make sure that we set up a Scottish Food Commission, which has the power to oversee the food system and make recommendations. This is crucial to making sure that we join our efforts on agriculture, the wider food economy, the environment, health, workers’ rights and fairness for farmers, and so on.

At RSPB Scotland, we also feel that it’s important for the government to enable businesses like farms and crofts to contribute to becoming a Good Food Nation by providing clarity on future policy and funding, and ensuring that this supports nature-friendly and environmentally sustainable production.  A new law for a Good Food Nation should support and enable this transition, and put all producers on a fairer and more sustainable footing.

Farmers and crofters are key to becoming a Good Food Nation. Make sure you have your say.

[1] Good Food Nation Consultation (2018). https://www.gov.scot/publications/good-food-nation-proposals-legislation/pages/2/  

[2] A consultation is a process where government asks for your views. In this case, the government have published a series of proposals in a ‘consultation document’, and we all have until 29th March to let them know what we think of this.

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