Last week, the Good Food Nation Bill passed in the Scottish Parliament, meaning it is now the responsibility of the Scottish Government to implement it. As we’ve discussed previously, this legislation is a once in a generation chance to transform our food system for the better – and put the welfare of human and non-human animals at the heart of it.
While we encourage and support people to transition towards a plant-based diet, as people continue to eat meat and dairy, we will work to improve the lives of farmed animals.
After working closely with the Scottish Food Coalition and responding to the Scottish government’s call for views on the Bill, we secured a landmark inclusion of animal welfare in the Bill’s text.
This is a significant win, following years of OneKind calling for animal welfare to be incorporated into the Bill. Back in 2019, we asked for this in our response to the government’s consultation on the Good Food Nation Proposals for Legislation. Our response to the government’s call for views last year echoed this, where we emphasised that,
“Food is not ‘good’ if it is produced in ways that cause animal suffering. This Bill should create a framework that normalises, supports, and incentivises the provision of a continuous improvement in quality of life for farmed animals.”
So, what does this actually mean for animals?
This inclusion means that ‘improving animal welfare’ is now listed as one of the things that Ministers and public bodies must consider when preparing Good Food Nation plans.
It means that when the time comes, we can hold them accountable for their responsibility – and work to ensure that this legislation translates into tangible improvements to the lives of farmed animals. Read more about our vision for what that could look like in our recent blog, where we asked, ‘What does it mean to be a Good Food Nation?’
A stronger bill – but our work isn’t over
Alongside the welcome inclusion of animal welfare in the Bill, together with the Scottish Food Coalition, we landed amendments that made the Bill much stronger than its initial version.
We thank the coalition partners who have worked so hard for years towards Scotland becoming a Good Food Nation, and the many MSPs who listened to our concerns and helped strengthen this Bill.
As the Coalition pointed out, the initial plan had:
‘minimal detail of what needed to be in these plans, what the plans were aiming to achieve and who was going to be responsible for checking to see the plans were making a difference.’
The good news is that 3 of the key asks we called for as part of the Coalition are in the Bill, including the establishment of an independent Food Commission to provide oversight. However, we are concerned that this Commission has a limit of 3-5 people, rendering it unlikely that animal welfare experts will be brought on board, which was our hope.
Also among our concerns is a last-minute amendment requiring Ministers to consult with the food business sector on the implementation of the plans. And we would have liked the Bill to include more details and specific targets.
As it stands, these targets and objectives for a Good Food Nation will come through in the plans. So, it is vital that we work to influence the content of those plans – so that they actually have a transformative impact on the lives of farmed animals.