Consultation launched on ‘good food nation’ plans

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Ministers do not see value in establishing a new body to oversee the drive to make Scotland a good food nation, according to a fresh publication.

The Scottish Government said it believes such a move would be “unnecessary” and bring in extra costs and bureaucracy.

The details emerged as ministers launched a public consultation on its plans to make Scotland a good food nation, including through legislation.

Under the proposals, Scotland would aim to become a place where “people from every walk of life take pride and pleasure in, and benefit from, the food they produce, buy, cook, serve, and eat”, the document notes.

Earlier this year, the Scottish Government was accused of kicking proposed legislation on the issue “into the long grass”.

In September, opposition parties questioned the decision not to include a Bill on the issue in the programme for government.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said at the time that ministers were still committed to legislating on the issue but wanted to consult more widely first.

The document published on Friday claims Scotland is already well on the way to becoming a good food nation by 2025, following the publication of a policy document in 2014 and the creation of the Scottish Food Commission the following year.

Seeking views on the best ways forward, the document notes: “We do not see value in establishing an independent statutory body for the purpose of overseeing the good food nation policy.

“We consider that the establishment of a new body is unnecessary… and it would bring additional cost and bureaucracy.”

“Key to this is ensuring everyone who lives here continues to appreciate and benefits from Scotland’s quality produce.

Ministers said legislation is “not the only way to make progress” but stated that “there is a clear place for legislation to underpin the significant work already being done”.

There have been calls from some quarters for Scotland to become the first part of the UK with a legal universal right to food.

The consultation document states the option of exploring a right to food which is directly enforceable under Scots law “has not been ruled out” but suggests that any proposals sit within wider human rights responsibilities.

Ministers also propose that private companies should not be forced to set out a statement on food policy, with such a move restricted to Government and some public bodies.

“We are concerned that it would place significant additional costs on businesses operating in Scotland and unfairly disadvantage them compared to their competitors,” the document notes.

Launching the consultation, Mr Ewing said: “While Scotland is well on its way to becoming a good food nation, I believe we must build on this progress and continue to grow and develop as a nation we can all be proud of.

“Key to this is ensuring everyone who lives here continues to appreciate and benefits from Scotland’s quality produce.

“I am pleased to launch a consultation on good food nation proposals for legislation to help us achieve our good food nation ambition.”

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