Farmers welcome Scottish government's food policy

Scottish national food policy could boost health of millions, according to the National Farmers' Union.

Scotland's farming union has said that a national food policy has massive potential to boost the nation's health, environment and rural communities. Commenting after the launch of a discussion document by the Scottish government on the development of Scotland's first national food policy, NFU Scotland has emphasised its view that improved provision of high quality, local food and drink could be among the most valuable of government initiatives.

For the last year, NFU Scotland has been running its own 'What's on your plate?' campaign to highlight the benefits of buying local food and drink.

NFUS president Jim McLaren said: "This is not just a food policy, it has the potential to be a ground-breaking health, education, environment and communities policy all rolled into one. It should represents a whole new approach by government to the food and drink industry, providing a platform for it to release its potential.

"Some of the world's finest food and drink is being produced on our doorstep, yet we still feed too many of the nation's pupils and patients with low quality food, imported from countries whose production systems do not meet our own high standards. Best value in public procurement should no longer mean cheapest price. If public institutions buy local, not only do they access high quality food, they invest in rural communities and businesses, reduce food miles and potentially improve the nation's health record.

"However, a national food policy must go beyond public procurement. It must look at improving the labelling of food and adding value by processing products in this country rather than allowing them to leave Scotland, only to be transported back again for sale once processed. It is also about encouraging the ongoing management of the countryside by farmers which, in itself, is an investment in our natural heritage.

"It is easy for governments to produce glossy strategy documents. We need more than that. We need a national food policy which is ambitious for change and can deliver real benefits on the ground."

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