Farmers must be represented on every enterprise board and community group in the land if Scotland is to become a Good Food Nation, says Gail Ross, MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross.
There have been numerous publications from many organisations about post-Brexit trade, subsidy and the environment.
There are varied opinions about whether Brexit offers us opportunity, or whether it will be an unmitigated disaster, and there have been meetings – no doubt there will be many more, before we reach that date in March of next year.
But in amongst what is becoming an increasingly cluttered landscape of Brexit publications, each one as important as the last, there are three recent ones we should be paying attention to.
The Scottish Food Coalition’s ‘A Seat at the Table – Becoming a Good Food Nation is everyone’s business’, ‘Field of Enquiry’ by the project manager Heather Anderson and ‘A Future Strategy for Scottish Agriculture’ – the final report by the Scottish Government’s Agricultural Champions.
I have said one more than one occasion that developing a Good Food Nation Bill in this parliamentary term is crucial and promises to be one of the most important and exciting pieces of legislation we will pass.
It crosses multiple portfolios such as Rural, Health and Education, and is about people’s access to good quality, nutritious, affordable food for them and their families.
Food security is one of the desperate issues of our time. The top five concerns about the food system in Scotland that came from the Scottish Food Coalition’s ‘Kitchen Table Talks’ are:
The report from the Agricultural Champions sets out 18 main recommendations. It recognises farmers, crofters and food producers as the stewards of the countryside and that environment, animal welfare and climate change are key.
It identifies areas such as succession planning, supply chains, efficiency, natural capital and careers.
It puts forward a number of suggestions as to how agriculture can move forward and bring in new entrants and people who want to continue producing our food.
Brexit has left us facing an uncertain future. Food production around the world is becoming more unstable.
Many fear world trade deals will leave us wide open to cheap meat imports, huge tariffs and lower animal welfare standards.
The loss of Protected Geographical Indicators such as Stornoway Black Pudding and Scotch Whisky would be devastating and the potential for the port of Dover to virtually collapse within a fortnight of Brexit day has been widely reported.
If we are going to become a Good Food Nation, we need to pay attention to these and the many other reports coming from the experts.
Get a farmer or a food producer on every enterprise agency board, every community development trust, every community planning partnership, on every community council, in every meeting and advisory group.
We cannot underestimate how crucial their voices are.