Highland Council and Scottish Government food policy

>Good Food Nation Bill

August 2022

Scottish Government consults on new Agriculture Bill

The introduction to the consultation document states

The new Agriculture Bill will aim to provide Scotland with a framework to support and work with farmers and crofters to meet more of our food needs sustainably and to farm and croft with nature. To ensure that Scotland's people are able to live and work sustainably on our land, this framework will deliver high quality food production, climate mitigation and adaptation, nature protection and restoration, and wider rural development. This consultation also includes proposals to modernise agricultural holdings and Scottish agricultural wages whilst seeking to complement the forthcoming Bills relating to land and the environment.

Consultation document and response form
[The first link returned by a Google search for 'Scottish Agriculture Bill consultation' points to a page which displays the consultation document but provides no means of responding.]

More information and links

Check out an additional submission to the consultation from Scottish Community Alliance, and comment on the Bill in a blog from the Scottish Land Commission .


May 2022

Highland Council's community food policy - 'Growing our Future'

From Skye Climate Action newsletter

The Highland Council's Community Food Growing Strategy was published in February.  To tackle inequalities, improve inclusion and respond to the climate emergency, the Strategy's vision is "By 2027 Highland communities are resilient, empowered and supported to grow their own food.

"The 'Growing our Future' Strategy document gives examples of community growing across Highland, including edible villages, school projects, community orchards and community gardens, such as the Raasay Walled Garden.  The Strategy seeks to support growers across Highland, improve access to land for community food growing, and help community groups and schools to set up projects on Council land and school grounds.  There is an action plan, and the Council will try to source funds, land, connect people to groups, information and resources and help with things like tool libraries.

More information about how to start community food growing is in the Guidance Document.


July 2022

Scottish Government Local Food Strategy consultation - response analysis published

In the second half of 2021 the Scottish Government conducted a consultation on its Local Food Strategy.  The consultation closed in December 2021, and in July 2022 the government published a detailed analysis of the responses received, but without announcing any confirmation or modification of the Local Food Strategy policy in the light of these responses.

Read the Strategy document

Nourish Scotland has published a document commenting on this and other Scottish Government consultations.

Highland Council's Climate Change Working Group discussed the council's response to the consultation at its meeting on 20 October 2021.

HGFP's response to the consultation


June 2022 update

Good Food Nation Bill passed unopposed

The Scottish Government's Good Food Nation Bill was approved at the end of the Stage 3 debate and amendments last Tuesday 15 June, with 113 MSPs voting in favour, and none opposed or abstaining.

Congratulations are due to all those, particularly the Scottish Food Coalition and the Scottish Green Party, who worked and campaigned to secure the passage of this bill in a workmanlike form.

Links to the debate (transcript and video) and other documents including the final text of the bill, are below

GFN bill  stage 3 debate, amendments and vote - 15 June 2022

Overview  (with link to video recording of debate)

The bill as introduced  October 2021

Stage 3 debate transcript and record of voting on amendments

Marshalled list of amendments for Stage 3

Timed groupings of amendments for Stage 3

Extract from minutes of meeting

3.  Good Food Nation (Scotland) Bill: The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands (Mairi Gougeon) moved  S6M-04938— That the Parliament agrees that the Good Food Nation (Scotland) Bill be passed.

 The motion was agreed to ((DT) by division: For 113, Against 0, Abstentions 0).

The bill as passed   15 June 2022


May 2022 update

Good Food Nation Bill

******  7 May 2022  Good Food Nation latest news ******

In response to an email asking her to support the inclusion of provision for a Food Commission in the GFN bill, Ariane Burgess, Green Party MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has announced that the Scottish Government has agreed to support an amendment to that effect which Ariane has proposed for the stage 3 and final debate on the bill on 14 June.  She writes

. . We have also listened to the calls from campaigners and the public that the government must have independent oversight if the Bill is to achieve its aims. I have worked constructively with colleagues in the Scottish Government for several months to reach an agreement on this issue. I am delighted to share that the government has agreed to support my amendment that will set up a new Food Commission, providing that vital oversight and expertise that you have asked for.
.   .   .   .
The Food Commission will scrutinise and make recommendations in relation to good food nation plans and progress reports, while also taking forward research and providing advice to Scottish Ministers, local councils and other public authorities. The Commission will also work with Scotland’s farmers, crofters and food industry to build a good food nation that supports good health, local and environmentally sustainable food, improved animal welfare and support the transition to net-zero.


Bachground and progress of the bill

The Scottish Government's aspiration to make Scotland a 'Good Food Nation' dates from 2014.  The Good Food Nation Bill introduced to Parliament last October requires the Scottish Government and certain public bodies to create good food nation plans to support social and economic wellbeing, the environment, health, and economic development.  According to the Scottish Government, these plans will help ensure good quality, locally sourced and produced food is a practical everyday reality for everyone.

The bill was debated at stage 1 of the legislative process in March, and at stage 2 on 11 May the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee voted to accept or reject amendments proposed by interested MSPs.  The final state of the bill will be determined after final amendments are discussed during the 3rd stage debate scheduled for 14 June.

The Bill as introduced

A Scottish Government Policy Memorandum gives extensive information about the background to the bill and an outline of its provisions.

A  Scottish Parliament research briefing provides similar information, with multiple links to related material.

A public consultation was conducted between November 2021 and January 2022.  A Scottish Government document outlines the aspects of the bill on which it sought views, and lists identified responses to the consultation.  There are links to further information about the progress of the bill through Parliament.

The Parliament committee mainly involved with the Bill is the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment (RAINE) Committee.  Following the public consultation and before the stage 1 debate the committee took additional evidence and issued a Stage 1 scrutiny report .  This seems to agree with criticisms of the bill for failing to provide for a strong Food Commission or similar independent oversight body.  AT paragraph 55  'The Committee recommends the bill is amended at Stage 2 to strengthen the oversight function.'

The Stage 1 debate took place on 22 March 2022, when the bill was introduced by Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands.   video of the debate

At the stage 2 meeting of thr RAINE Committee, a large number of amendments proposed by MSPs were voted on.

The Bill as amended at stage 2

Criticism of the Bill

Several organisations, under the umbrella of the Scottish Food Coalition, of which the Highland Good Food Partnership is a member, feel that the bill as amended at stage 2 is still deficient in certain respects.

The Scottish Food Coalition feels that the bill as it stands is inadequate, and has written an article saying how they think it could be improved, noting its failure to provide for a strong Food Commission or specific targets.

Nourish Scotland is also unhappy with the bill, and believes that three key ingredients are still missing - declaration of a right to food, a strong Food Commission and 'ambitious and achievable targets to focus minds and stimulate immediate action'.

The Scottish Food Coalition have also published a substantial report  'A Good Food Nation for Scotland - why and How'  in an unreadable double-page PDF format, which it is not possible to change to a single-page layout in the PDF reader.  We have asked for a readable version, and this has now been provided.






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