Highland Council and Scottish Government food policy

>Good Food Nation Bill

*January 2024  update

Good Food Nation Plan and consultation

Following the passage of the Good Food Nation Bill in June 2022, the Scottish Government has published its Good Food Nation Plan on its website and as an 80 page PDF file.  It has opened a consultation on the plan, which closes on the 22 April.

The plan is an enormous and not very well organised document urgently in need of a concise summary.  The one thing that does stand out clearly is a list of six target 'outcomes', described as 'the high-level aspirations for a Good Food Nation', which it is hoped the plan will help to achieve.

The Good Food Nation Outcomes

Outcome 1: Everyone in Scotland eats well with reliable access to safe, nutritious, affordable, sustainable, and age and culturally appropriate food.

Outcome 2: Scotland’s food system is sustainable and contributes to a flourishing natural environment. It supports our net zero ambitions, and plays an important role in maintaining and improving animal welfare and in restoring and regenerating biodiversity.

Outcome 3: Scotland’s food system encourages a physically and mentally healthy population, leading to a reduction in diet-related conditions.

Outcome 4: Our food and drink sector is prosperous, diverse, innovative, and vital to national and local economic and social wellbeing. It is key to making Scotland food secure and food resilient, and creates and sustains jobs and businesses underpinned by fair work standards.

Outcome 5: Scotland has a thriving food culture with a population who are interested in and educated about good and sustainable food.

Outcome 6: Scotland has a global reputation for high-quality food that we want to continue to grow. Decisions we make in Scotland contribute positively to local and global food systems transformation. We share and learn from best practice internationally.

What one looks for, but does not find, in the section 'Working towards a Good Food Nation'  is a clear statement of actions the government proposes to take in order to achieve these outcomes.  What one gets ia vast amount of general discussion of every imaginable food-related topic, as well as  'snapshot boxes' purporting to portray the life experience of people in all walks of life once a Good Food Nation has been achieved.  The only glimpse of clarity is in a section on policies

Food policy is incredibly varied and extends into a range of different areas within the Scottish Government.

We have organised current and future government policies and actions into four sections based around key groups in the food system: People and Communities; Providers and Places; Farmers, Food Producers and Processers; and Policymakers.

People and Communities collects policies that are targeted at individuals and communities. These are policies that focus on improving individual situations and securing better access to healthy and sustainable food.

Providers in this context is defined as those who supply food to other people in a variety of settings. This section therefore includes policies on public sector food provision; retail; restaurants; and similar. It also includes any policies that influence what is made available to the public in these settings, such as school food regulations.

The Farmers, Food Producers and Processors section contains policies that are directed at those who grow; rear; catch; or harvest food, as well as those who manufacture and process food stuffs.

The final section, Policymakers, covers some other key overarching government policies and strategies that interlink with food policy and must be considered and reflected upon when making new policies.

The consultation

The Scottish Government website consultation page has links to the GFN Plan and to a consultation paper.  This gives a list of 'indicators' and 'targets/other measures' for each outcome which in fact give a better idea of the direction the government might take in implementing the plan than anything in the plan itself.  It also has questions about the perceived value of the indicators and targets in achieving GFN - taken together rather than separately for each outcome.  There are also questions about the perceived validity of the snapshots of life in a future Good Food Nation.

Despite listing these 18 questions, the consultation paper offers no means of reponding to them.  For this it is necessary to go back to the previous consultation page and scroll down to the 'Give us your views' box and click 'Begin consultation'.  Responding to this consultation is surely worthwhile, but not a task to be undertaken lightly, and one wonders whether it has to be quite so complicated.

The Good Food Nation Plan

GFN consultation response      (and link to consultation paper)

GFN consultation paper


August 2022

Scottish Government consults on new Agriculture Bill - closed December 2022

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.

More information and links

Submission from HGFP

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.


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.

The bill as passed   15 June 2022

May 2022 update

Food commission amendment accepted

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.  [The amendment was accepted].


Bachground to 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 Scottish Food Coalition have also published a substantial report  'A Good Food Nation for Scotland - why and How' . 

Here is a readable version 


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