LAST week the Government published its Child Poverty Plan, and opened a consultation on CCTV in abattoirs, while Food Standards Scotland’s conference focused on diet and health. The National Farmers Union for Scotland published its proposals for future farm support payments.

Food connects so many different aspects of life and politics. The Child Poverty plan includes a budget for school meals in the holidays, while making CCTV compulsory is intended to safeguard animal welfare at slaughter. Discussions on diet and health have to balance a sense of personal choice and responsibility with legislating for change in the food environment – and align the legitimate goal of businesses to sell us more food with the public health imperative for us to eat and drink fewer calories.

READ MORE: Ministers to unveil plans to make right to food a legal obligation

There are difficult decisions ahead about how best to support farmers to achieve multiple goals – food for export, local food, tackling climate change, keeping people on the land, managing for wildlife.

In 2019, the Scottish Government will introduce a Good Food Nation Bill, which will read across all these areas and more. The new law will define what it means to be a Good Food Nation and set a direction of travel for Scotland’s food policy. No-one thinks people should be relying on food banks in 21st-century Scotland.

Is it time now to establish the right to food at the heart of Scotland’s policy – recognising that everyone should have affordable dignified access to good food, whatever their situation?

This means aligning social security, health and social care policies as well as tackling the poverty premium, especially in rural areas. The Scottish Government has explicitly recognised animal sentience in the recent Continuity Bill; should a Good Food Nation go further and promote positive animal welfare? Should all imported food have to meet the same welfare standards as food produced here?

The Continuity Bill also adopts the precautionary principle and the “polluter pays” principle: should the Food Bill go further in setting environmental targets on pesticides, antibiotics, or excess fertilizer? With 65 per cent of adult Scots reckoned to be overweight or obese, do we need to set a binding target for healthy weight as we have done with climate change? Should there be much tougher conditions on food businesses to sell us a healthier diet?

So, one way or another the Good Food Nation Bill will affect all of us, and the government’s consultation paper is due out soon.