Plenty: Food, farming and health in a new Scotland

By : Bella Crowe
Apr 5, 2016

Ahead of next month's parliamentary elections, Bella Crowe of the Scottish Food Coalition says a transformation of Scotland’s Food Policy is urgently needed. 

Last month the Scottish Food Coalition launched their first report – Plenty: Food, Farming and Health in a New Scotland. Starting with the basic premise that Scotland has plenty of land, and plenty of sea, and plenty of skilled people, so there is no reason why we shouldn’t have plenty of good food for everyone.

The report asks, what is needed to get us to that point of plenty? Where Scotland is a country in which everybody has access to good food, farmers and food sector workers earn a decent living, wildlife is thriving, we’re mitigating climate change, people are happy and eating healthily, and communities are flourishing.

The report takes a fresh approach to a huge range of issues related to the food system, arguing that faced with so many urgent challenges, we need a whole-scale transformation. It has gone a long way to outlining this transition, and has been picked up widely by civil society and politicians alike.

A Parliamentary debate provoked by the report on Scotland’s Food Future showed a growing political consensus on the need to join the dots and work towards systemic change. So where next?

A Food, Farming and Health Act

With elections around the corner, the Scottish Food Coalition is campaigning for primary legislation in the next Parliament to facilitate this transformation.

A ‘Food, Farming and Health Act’ would provide a framework for action. It would enshrine the Right to Food into Scottish law and promote agroecology as the farming method of the future, but crucially it would also change our approach to food, farming and health policies by creating a statutory Food Commission. This Commission would provide oversight and work with all relevant agencies according to agreed targets for our food system. It would report annually to Parliament on the State of Scotland’s Food System. It would be obliged to consult with civil society, and be able to commission research and issue advice to assist in the transition to a better food system. 

In the absence of overarching policies, an industry-led approach to the governance of our food system has been operating by default. Creating a statutory Food Commission, with a strong civil society participation mechanism, would facilitate a more democratic food system, with the wellbeing of the people in Scotland at its heart.

Next steps?

We are calling for an enquiry into the future of food in Scotland, led by the Rural Affairs and Climate Change and Environment Committee, with input from other committees, as the first stage of shaping the Bill. We are also seeking engagement from other civil society organisations – food touches everything – and this is an opportunity to shape the future of our food system.

The Scottish Green Party have included a commitment to introducing a Food, Farming and Health Act in their manifesto, will the other parties follow suit?

 

Bella Crowe (bella@foodcoalition.scot) is Coordinator of the Scottish Food Coalition.

Eating Better is one of the organisations that is part of the coalition.

 

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