Scotland’s Good Food Nation Bill

Scotland’s Good Food Nation Bill is here, what next? An article by Ian M, published on the RSPB Scotland website, 18th Jun 2022.

In this blog we look at the outcome of the recent Stage 3 debate for the Good Food Nation Bill, and at the future of Scotland’s food system.

We know that Scotland’s food system impacts on climate and nature. In the UK, numbers of breeding farmland birds have dropped by more than half between 1970 and 2018, and in Scotland, agriculture is one of the top 3 sources of carbon emissions. We need healthy ecosystems, with high quality soils, diverse vegetation, pollinators and insects, to help keep our food system functioning, ensuring the long-term resilience and stability of our food chain. This is why, as founding members of the Scottish Food Coalition, we have campaigned for the Good Food Nation Bill. This piece of legislation, which has just been passed into law, has the potential to ensure that Scotland’s future food system works for nature, climate and people.

The journey so far…

The first Good Food Nation policy was published by the Scottish Government back in 2014. This set out the Government’s vision that by 2025, Scotland will be “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”. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Bill – where the Government would put this vision into law – wasn’t brought forward in 2020, so we were pleased to see it introduced in in October 2021.

Since then, we have engaged with MSPs and the Committee responsible for overseeing the Bill, the Rural Affairs, Islands and Natural Environment Committee, to ensure the Bill is able to make the food system better for Scotland’s environment. Alongside the Scottish Food Coalition, we gave evidence to the Committee, met with MSPs, engaged with supporters and made the case for fixing Scotland’s food system. On the 14th and 15th of June, the Scottish Government held the Stage 3 debate for the Good Food Nation Bill where MSPs voted on amendments to the Bill (you can watch the entire debate here on Parliament TV). The Scottish Food Coalition was mentioned several times for their contributions and work towards the success of the Bill. Now, all we need is a signature from the Queen before the Good Food Nation Bill becomes the Good Food Nation Act!

A young lapwing on a farm in Stirlingshire. Through nature friendly farming practices farmers can encourage breeding farmland birds and increase population sizes on their farms. Image credit: Andy Hay

What was in the Bill?

As part of the Scottish Food Coalition, we have had 5 longstanding asks for the Good Food Nation Bill to create the necessary changes to fix Scotland’s food system. Have a look below at what the successes we achieved, and where we will be continuing to work to make food policy in Scotland a key part of addressing the nature & climate crises.


Looking forward…

If you’ve been following the journey of the Good Food Nation Bill so far, you might be eager to know what comes next. Whilst we are enormously proud of the work that has gone into shaping the Good Food Nation Bill, we still have some work to do to create a healthy and sustainable food system in Scotland.

As well as continuing to work specifically on the progress of the Good Food Nation food plans and with the new Food Commission, we also need to continue engaging with those who are at the heart of the food system. At the RSPB, we’re continuing to work with farmers and crofters, supporting them to manage their land for nature and climate, whilst also calling on the Scottish government to create a system of farm funding that works for nature, the climate, and all of Scotland’s people. Creating join up between the future of Scotland’s agriculture policy and food policy is vital.

If you’re interested in reading more about our work on the GFN Bill campaign, then why not read the Scottish Food Coalition’s recently published report: A Good Food Nation For Scotland, Why & How.

Featured image shows a farmer tending to his cattle on a farm in Sutherland. The RSPB is working with farmers, supporting and advising them on how to best manage their land for nature. Credit: Andy Hay