Good Food Nation proposals for legislation: analysis of consultation responses
Analysis of responses to the Good Food Nation Proposals for Legislation consultation.
The national food and drink policy – Becoming a Good Food Nation – was published in 2014, setting out the 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'. The Scottish Government's Programme for Government (2017-18) included a commitment to consult on proposals for a Good Food Nation Bill.
In September 2018, the Scottish Government published its 'Good Food Nation Programme of Measures'. The Scottish Government undertook to consult on proposals for legislation that would help to underpin the significant work already undertaken across Government in terms of key measures and activity to deliver a Good Food Nation. The focus of any legislation could be a clear framework that placed responsibilities on Scottish Ministers and specified public bodies to publish and adhere to statements of policy on food.
In December 2018 the Scottish Government launched a consultation on Good Food Nation proposals for legislation seeking views on the means to achieve outcomes in relation to Good Food Nation, through legislation.
A total of 1,360 responses were received. After checking for blank responses, duplicates and campaign responses, this resulted in a total of 802 individuals and organisations who responded directly to the consultation: 175 from organisations and 627 from individuals. These are referred to as 'consultation responses' in the main body of this report. Those who responded as part of a campaign are referred to as 'campaign respondents'.
The following table shows the numbers of responses in each analysis sub-group. The largest organisation sub-group with 35 respondents was third sector (non-food), followed by food / food retail / producer / distributor (17 respondents) and representative body / trade union, local authorities and third sector (food) (each with 16 respondents).
|Campaigning / advocacy||13|
|Food / food retail / producer / distributor||17|
|NHS / Health||12|
|Representative body / Trade Union||16|
|Third sector (food)||16|
|Third sector (not food)||35|
|Education / Academic / Research||14|
Main Findings: Scottish Ministers and public authorities
To what extent do you agree with the framework proposals for Ministers and public authorities to prepare statements of policy, have regard to them in the exercise of relevant functions, and report on implementation, with regard to international obligations and guidance (Question 1)
The overwhelming majority of consultation respondents, across all sub-groups, strongly agreed or agreed with the framework proposals for Ministers and public authorities to prepare statements of policy, have regard to them in the exercise of relevant functions, and report on implementation, with regard to international obligations and guidance.
Significant numbers of these respondents generally expressed a commitment to a right to food, or agreed with the Scottish Government wanting to take measures to ensure the right to food. A key perspective was of a need for a holistic or whole system approach, involving all sectors and relevant groups working together so that policies relate to all parts of the food system.
There were requests from around a third of consultation respondents for the right to food to be enshrined in law, although not explicitly through the Good Food Nation legislation. A similar proportion noted the need for a strong reporting framework, with some comments that the current wording in the consultation document is too ambivalent; and for the framework to have precise objectives, targets and timescales.
Around a quarter of those providing commentary focused on a need to have due regard for international obligations, with some suggestions that the Scottish Government could incorporate or take heed of working practices in other countries.
A significant number of organisations noted the need to avoid policy conflict and dovetail with other policies or initiatives such as climate change goals, human rights legislation, transport policies and so on. Linked to this, a large number of consultation respondents focused on specific areas for consideration within the policy statements; these included environmentally-friendly farming, climate change, the need for sustainable farming production methods and greenhouse gas emissions.
A significant minority of consultation respondents focused on the need for Good Food Nation to address food poverty and food insecurity; and there were also references to the need to consider public health.
Whilst we do not plan to require all sectors to prepare statements of policy on food, they do all have a role to play in achieving our Good Food Nation ambition. To what extent do you agree that Government should encourage and enable businesses in particular to play their part? (Question 2)
Almost all consultation respondents strongly agreed or agreed that the Government should encourage and enable businesses to play their part in achieving the Good Food Nation ambition.
A key theme was that all businesses which are part of the food industry must be involved in achieving the Good Food Nation ambition. For many of these respondents, this included private sector food businesses.
Almost half of the consultation respondents who answered this question thought that businesses needed to be supported, encouraged or incentivised – as opposed to being forced or regulated – to play their part in making the necessary changes. Some consultation respondents also felt that fiscal stimuli would be needed to help achieve the Good Food Nation goals.
Nearly one in five consultation respondents noted that the Good Food Nation ambition requires a holistic approach with all sectors working together to play their part in partnership format if it is to be successful. This should be backed up with the government leading by example and having the powers, resources and influence to enable positive changes.
Many consultation respondents also made a number of points about various changes which businesses may need to make in order to help realise the Good Food Nation ambition.
Many organisations chose to focus on specific areas in which change would be required in order to make the Good Food Nation ambition a reality; chief of which was the need to focus on sustainability and the environment.
Main Findings: Oversight of the Good Food Nation policy area
To what extent do you agree with the proposed approach to accountability of Scottish Ministers and specified public authorities? (Question 3)
A higher proportion of consultation respondents disagreed with the proposed approach to accountability than agreed, with the highest level of agreement coming from local authorities; disagreement came from most other types of organisation, although views were relatively polarised within representative bodies / trade unions, food / food retail / producer / distributors and third sector (food).
The key theme emerging at this question and mentioned by almost half of consultation respondents was that there is a need for an independent statutory body to oversee all aspects of food in Scotland. This comment came from higher proportions of consultation respondents who disagreed with this proposal than agreed. Their reasons for support for a statutory body included a need for accountability and independent oversight, for reviewing implementation of the Good Food Nation policy and monitoring of performance.
Allied to this point, a significant number of consultation respondents noted that any independent statutory body would need to represent all sectors of society so as to ensure that actions taken are well targeted and benefit those most in need.
A significant number of consultation respondents who were supportive of an independent body made suggestions as to how this could be structured, with references to the Scottish Land Commission, the Poverty and Inequality Commission or the Welsh Future Generations organisation.
A few consultation respondents noted that there is a need for a Food Commission or for reinstatement of the Scottish Food Commission, whose role would be to provide advice to Scottish Ministers and oversight of actions taken under the Good Food Nation policy.
Echoing earlier themes, some consultation respondents referred to the impact of food across a wide range of policy sectors and across all aspects of life, and cited a need to ensure that the ethos of Good Food Nation is embedded across all sectors and all public authorities, particularly as there is a perception that current policies in relation to food are fragmented.
Once again, consultation respondents referred to the need for a partnership approach being essential to the success of Good Food Nation, given the wide range of organisations affected by food insecurity and food policy; as well as a need for departmental co-operation within the Scottish Government and across public authorities. That said, some local authorities noted a need for additional resources if greater responsibilities are to be placed upon public authorities.
Main Findings: Other provisions
To what extent do you agree with the proposal for targeted legislation relevant to specific policy areas as an alternative to a single piece of legislation? (Question 4)
While more consultation respondents agreed than disagreed with the proposals for targeted legislation relevant to specific policy areas as an alternative to a single piece of legislation, the highest number noted they neither agreed nor disagreed. The highest levels of agreement with the proposed approach came from local authorities, representative bodies / trade unions, third sector food organisations and those within the food / food retail / producer / distributor sector. The highest levels of disagreement came from campaigning / advocacy organisations, those within the academic / research / education sector and faith groups.
Two key themes emerged, both cited by around one in four consultation respondents. The first noted a preference for overarching framework legislation into which targeted legislation could then be introduced and / or a need for initial framework legislation which could then guide targeted legislation in the future. The other key theme was that legislation should include a commitment on the part of the Scottish Government to the right to food.
A few consultation respondents felt that whatever legislation is used, there is a need to adopt an integrated approach to cover all relevant policy areas and to ensure that joined-up thinking and partnership working can be applied to Good Food Nation principles.
Some consultation respondents also commented that whatever approach is adopted will need to be flexible and offer a capacity to respond to any future changes within the food sector.
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