Work is under way to draft the bill and we plan to publish it as part of the legislative programme that is set out in the programme for government for this parliamentary year.
Prompt action would be welcomed by all parties. Will job insecurity and low wages in the food industry be considered in the bill, in order to ensure that workers in that industry are better paid and better protected?
The wider work that we are doing on our way to becoming a good food nation encompasses many different areas. Of course we want more people working in our food and drink industry. We need to employ more people, and addressing the working conditions for people in the sector is a vital part of that work. I cannot say for certain whether such provisions will be included in the bill, but those issues will be looked at as part of the overall package of work that we will do as we progress towards becoming a good food nation.
As we confirmed in the report, “Good Food Nation: Programme of Measures”, which was published last year, much is already happening across Government to make Scotland a good food nation. In the programme for government, we committed to publish a progress report on that work, and that report will be published shortly.
As an example of the work that is being done, through a further round of the highly successful regional food fund, a further £100,000 has been made available this week to new collaborative businesses and projects to promote Scotland’s world-leading food and drink sector. The fund has already supported 57 innovative projects across Scotland to the tune of £259,000.
Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting the Stranraer oyster festival, which the fund has supported for the second year running. I saw at first hand the benefits that such support brings. It was an absolutely fantastic festival, and I could tell that it does so much for the local community. The fund helps our local economies to grow, and it plays a major part in promoting the importance of locally produced food and drink and the environmental benefits of sourcing produce close to home.