SCOTLAND'S upcoming Good Food Nation Bill is a 'prime opportunity' to ensure that food producers are more empowered within the supply chain, NFU Scotland has told politicians.

At a specially orgnaised fringe event at the Scottish Labour Party Conference, the union's political affairs manager Clare Slipper told delegates: “Retail sales of Scottish brands have risen by 37% in the last few years and internationally, exports of Scottish food and drink products have surpassed £5billion. That is a great success story but, as Scottish farm incomes figures show, there is a disconnect from field to fork.

“The Good Food Nation Bill is an opportunity to address some of the bad economics that are at play within the food and drink supply chain. It is also an opportunity to recognise that in Scotland we also have a looming public health disaster with obesity and health statistics," she said.

“The Bill must do its utmost to promote the fact that the clear majority of Scottish food and drink is sustainable, healthy and nutritious and engage consumers, young and old, on the food production system and how to make healthy choices all the way through life.

"That presents the whole Scottish food chain with the opportunity to build a Good Food Nation which uses every opportunity to advocate the health benefits of fresh, locally sourced food, both in the home and through public procurement in Scotland’s public places," said Ms Slipper.

“Farmers and crofters want to play their part. As a country we can also do much better at supporting our Scottish producers at home. That is why NFU Scotland is calling for the Good Food Nation Bill to introduce a mandatory target for central and local government food procurement. Our vision has received the backing of major players in Scotland’s food industry but

we also need the buy-in of the public who are ultimately the consumers of our world-class produce.”

The fringe event was facilitated by facilitated by Colin Smyth MSP, Scottish Labour's shadow cabinet secretary for rural economy, and chaired by NFUS president Andrew McCornick, as Ms Slipper and director of policy Jonnie Hall mapped out the Union’s vision for food production, farming and the environment post-Brexit.