DEAR Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for he Rural Economy,

We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to build a Good Food Nation. Whilst much good work is already under way, we believe ambitious cross-cutting legislation – in the form of a Good Food Nation Bill – needs to be brought forward now, to fully achieve it.

The vision for a Good Food Nation is best spelled out in the Scottish Food Commission’s 2016 interim report, as follows, and we support this:

  • It is the norm for Scots to take a keen interest in their food, knowing what constitutes good food, valuing it and seeking it out whenever they can.
  • People who serve and sell food – from schools to hospitals, retailers, cafes and restaurants – are committed to serving and selling good food.
  • Everyone in Scotland has ready access to the healthy, nutritious food they need.
  • Dietary-related diseases are in decline, as is the environmental impact of our food consumption.
  • Scottish producers ensure that what they produce is increasingly healthy and environmentally sound.
  • Food companies are a thriving feature of the economy and places where people want to work.
  • Other countries look to Scotland to learn how to become a Good Food Nation

Achieving this vision requires measures which read across food insecurity, health, environment and waste as well as the food and farming industry. Our organisations have collective expertise across these areas and we urge you to encourage your Cabinet colleagues to bring forward and consult on proposals for the bill, as a matter of some urgency.

Food is at the heart of many societal and environmental problems but is also part of the solution; the Good Food Nation Bill is a means to make significant progress and could be truly ground-breaking. We welcome the First Minister’s commitment to halve childhood obesity by 2030 and hope this, along with an equally ambitious target for reducing food insecurity in Scotland, will be set out on the face of the bill. We also welcome the commitment by Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities to consider enshrining the right to food in Scots law, and hope that this will be the cornerstone of the bill.

Fundamentally, this bill must help deliver a Good Food Nation for everyone in Scotland. As a Menu for Change project participant said: “I’ve come across people who think they know what they’re talking about. But they’ve never lived the reality, they’ve never come close … they’ve never had to hunt for a pound for a loaf o’ bread.”

Alongside tackling food insecurity, the bill should also establish a statutory Food Commission and put in place a range of environmental, animal welfare, food waste reduction measures and targets.

We want to see a thriving food and farming industry where food workers have decent wages and conditions secured through strong individual and collective trade union rights; there are high standards of health and safety throughout the food industry; and the sector is one of the strongest parts of the economy while reducing its climate-change contribution.

We also recognise the importance of people growing their own food, whether in their own garden, in allotments or community gardens.

We understand you will be meeting with the Scottish Food Commission this week to discuss next steps. We hope you will then be in a position to make a public statement on progressing the bill.

We offer you our full support in turning the ambitions we all share for a Good Food Nation into reality.

Signatories to date: The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE); Child Poverty Action Group Scotland; Church of Scotland; Common Weal; Compassion in World Farming; Cyrenians; Global Justice Now; Interfaith Food Justice Network; Menu for Change; Nourish Scotland; Obesity Action Scotland; Open Seas; Oxfam Scotland; Poverty Alliance; Royal Scottish Geographical Society; RSPB Scotland; Scottish Allotments and Gardens; Scottish Crofting Federation; Scottish Human Rights Consortium; Slow Food Youth Network; Trussell Trust; Unison; Unite Scotland; WWF Scotland

ROBERT Mitchell (Letters, June 25) rightly recommends the tune The March of the Soldiers of Robert Bruce for special Scottish occasions. The French gave the tune this title because of its use by Scots in France, notably those helping Joan of Arc, whose triumphal entry to Orleans on May 8 1429 was, according to French military records, to this tune. The French military still use it today on ceremonial occasions.

The title derives from its use by the Scottish army at Bannockburn in 1314. At that time it was a drinking song Hey Tutti Taiti. It is best known now as the anthem Scots Wha Hae, the words being by Robert Burns, who based them on the reported speech by Bruce to the army before the battle. The march goes well on pipes and drums. Other forms of the tune are the reel The Wind that Shakes the Barley and the lament The Land of the Leal.

David Stevenson