9.1 The findings of this consultation have shown that there is widespread support and enthusiasm for the vision, and the overall 'direction of travel', as set out in Becoming a Good Food Nation.
9.2 Both individual and organisational respondents welcomed the broad focus of the discussion document and recognised the potential benefits for the environment, the economy, population health, and social justice and cohesion more generally which the successful implementation of such a broadly based policy approach might achieve. They were also in agreement that tackling deep-seated cultural issues and changing Scotland's relationship with food was vital. Furthermore, one of the benefits of the Good Food Nation agenda was the opportunity it provided to raise the profile of work in this area, to bring strategic direction and encourage further activity.
9.3 Alongside this broad support, there was a recognition that this is a very challenging and long-term agenda, and concern that the discussion document does not provide a blueprint for action. The policy terrain is complex, with a vast array of stakeholders and many competing interests which need to be acknowledged and resolved. The bold vision set out in Becoming a Good Food Nation requires to be matched by a bold and fully integrated policy stance in order to be credible. Moreover, clarity about the definitions of some basic terms and principles (e.g. 'local food', 'good food', 'sustainable economic growth') is required.
9.4 The main tensions identified were between: i) (reducing) environmental impacts and (increasing) economic growth and ii) encouraging local food growing / initiatives on the one hand and encouraging exports and developing export markets on the other. There was a widespread view that any focus on economic growth would need to be framed in terms of sustainable economic growth rather than economic growth per se.
9.5 Respondents emphasised the importance of including the aim to reduce and ultimately eliminate food poverty as part of the policy focus of Becoming a Good Food Nation. Food poverty was a major concern. The issues around ensuring access to healthy and affordable food for all were thought to be of central importance to any aspiration Scotland might have to be a Good Food Nation. This perspective dominated the responses from social justice organisations; however reducing food poverty was also central to the concerns of many individuals and organisations across all sectors.
9.6 While respondents were in favour of the general approach set out, they recognised that it was very 'high level'. Respondents therefore also focused on the importance of translating the strategic vision into a clear plan with measurable aims and objectives, and specific actions. This was necessary in order to provide a framework for implementing this ambitious agenda and for measuring progress in relation to short, medium and long-term outcomes.
9.7 As would be expected given the wide range of stakeholders, a large number of priorities were identified for early action. Of the priorities suggested in the discussion document, 'food in the public sector', and 'local food' were affirmed on a broad basis. 'Economic growth' was a high priority for those involved in the food producer, retail, and enterprise sectors; but others thought this should take a lower priority. The other identified priorities ('a children's food policy' and 'good food choices') attracted a more mixed response. Although there was universal agreement that improving the diet and food habits of children was essential, it was questioned whether this should be tackled through an isolated food policy.
9.8 More generally, the priorities identified by respondents related to: improving the sustainability of all aspects of the food production process; reducing the environmental impacts of food production; improving health, diet and nutrition; reducing food poverty; improving education and skills in relation to food and nutrition; empowering consumers and communities; using legislation and regulation to improve food choices; and increasing employment and educational opportunities. The balance and emphasis for these priorities varied, with respondents often highlighting the issues which were at the core of their organisational or personal agendas.
9.9 Respondents endorsed the preliminary steps and broad approach to delivering the Good Food Nation agenda. There was recognition of the need for a multi-stranded approach which would cross-cut many policy areas. Respondents were keen to see an inclusive, holistic, integrated and bold approach which capitalised on the full range of levers available to the Scottish Government.
9.10 A Food Commission was generally thought to be a good idea in order to coordinate effort in this area and to provide leadership. It was vital that such a Commission should have a clear remit which articulated fully with other organisations and institutional structures within this policy landscape. Respondents wanted the membership of the Commission to be broad based, and the working methods to be clear and transparent, with all conflicts of interest fully declared.
9.11 There was a strong appetite to build on the many extant initiatives and programmes which were already up and running in Scotland, and to invest in projects and programmes which were providing a lead in this area. These included broad initiatives covering much of the territory mapped out in Becoming a Good Food Nation, as well as small single-focus initiatives operating in specific localities. Individual respondents described a range of ways in which they would like to contribute to Scotland becoming a Good Food Nation.
9.12 Moreover, the existence of such a wide range of ongoing work provides evidence that, for many of those responding to the consultation, this was not the 'start of a journey', but part of an ongoing process. Looking to the future, organisations provided details of plans for the coming year representing either a continuation of existing work, or the start of new initiatives, while individuals cited a range of lifestyle changes which they would make representing small, but important, steps in becoming a Good Food Nation.
9.13 There was also a desire to learn from international evidence and experience, and to link the efforts in Scotland into wider (European, international, global) perspectives. In doing this, the importance of an evidence-based approach was affirmed.
9.14 Overall, therefore, there is strong commitment amongst respondents to the concept of becoming a Good Food Nation. Respondents were, however, clear that the Good Food Nation vision on its own was not enough. Appropriate policies, underpinned by a fully developed blueprint for action, combined with adequate funding and support (both practical and political) are required if the vision is to be realised.
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Food, Drink and Rural Communities