The public are being urged to help shape the first ever local food strategy produced by the Scottish Government.
Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon has urged everyone, from private individuals to businesses and organisations, to take part in a consultation – the first stage in a strategy to make high quality food accessible to all and promote the benefits of locally produced food and drink.
One of the Scottish Government’s 100 days’ commitments, the consultation cover a range of issues including promoting local produce, encouraging people to grow their own food and making quality local food and drink available to all.
It seeks views on the three pillars of the strategy, namely connecting people with food, connecting producers with buyers and harnessing the buying power of public sector procurement.
Vertical farming, a new agricultural technology that could help support local food production, is also included in the consultation.
The food and drink sector in Scotland is made up of more than 17,000 businesses which employ around 122,000 people, many in remote and economically fragile rural and island communities.
Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “Scotland has some of the best food and drink anywhere in the world and the benefits of consuming locally produced food goes well beyond the plate.
“By encouraging more locally-based production, we can reduce the distance food travels as well as enabling more people to grow their own food.
“As a nation, our approach to food has been changing for the better – people want to know how their food was produced, such as welfare standards and how far it has travelled.
“Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic have accelerated that pace of change and we want to maximise the potential that local food production has to offer – enriching lives, improving diets, supporting local economies and ensuring that a low income is not a barrier to healthy, nutritious food.”
“This consultation includes the use of new technologies like vertical farming n food production and harnessing the spending power of public sector procurement and I would encourage individuals, businesses and organisations to be part of the process that will make Scotland a good food nation.”
The food and drink industry is a major contributor to Scotland’s economy, generating turnover of around £14.9 billion.
The consultation, available on the Scottish Government website is live from 20 August and closes on November 26: https://www.gov.scot/isbn/9781802012392
Consultation responses can be provided on CitizenSpace: https://consult.gov.scot/agriculture-and-rural-economy/local-food-for-everyone