4 May 2020

Scottish Labour is supporting the call from the Scottish Food Coalition, that the Scottish Government use the upcoming Agriculture Bill to introduce a National Food Plan, after progress on introducing such a Plan in other legislation was shelved, due to covid-19.

The Stage 1 debate on the Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Bill will take place on Tuesday (May 5).

Colin Smyth, Scottish Labour’s spokesperson for transport and rural economy, is urging the Scottish Government to commit to amending this Bill to include key elements of the halted Good Food Nation Bill, including committing Government to develop a National Food Plan. Scottish Labour MSP Elaine Smith is also seeking to enshrine the right to food in Scots Law.

A National Food Plan was supposed to be introduced in the Good Food Nation Bill later this year, but this legislation has now been shelved because of coronavirus.

However, the challenges around supply chain fragility and access to food during this outbreak have highlighted the need for a more strategic, joined-up approach to food.

A National Food Plan could bring together various policy areas to enable a more joined-up approach to our food system and could underpin contingency planning to ensure our food system is resilient enough to withstand a crisis such as this in the future.

Scottish Labour transport and rural economy spokesman Colin Smyth said: “Since the start of this crisis we have seen both the importance and the fragility of our food system. It is clearer than ever that we need more strategic planning, and we must not let bureaucracy delay that any further.

“The Agriculture Bill should take on some of the key aspects of the planned Good Food Nation Bill, including the introduction of a National Food Plan.

“This will underpin a more joined-up approach to food policy, bringing together different areas such as health, education, poverty and agriculture to create a stronger and more resilient food system in Scotland.

“This will also enable comprehensive contingency planning to ensure Scotland’s food system is better equipped to deal with emergencies and disruptions such as this.

“From initial shortages in our supermarkets, to images of farmers having to pour milk down the drain and the challenge of ensuing that food is delivered to our most vulnerable, it’s clear that we do need to better prepare for emergencies.”

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