New Jersey senator and Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker has proposed legislation that would ban new CAFOs (controlled animal feeding operations) and require existing ones to close by January 2040.
Booker, who has been a vegan since 2014, has surpassed the 200,000 donor requirement for the December democratic debate to be held Thursday, Dec. 19, but is still short in the polls he needs to qualify to take the stage. His proposal of the Farm System Reform Act of 2019 is an attempt to “transition to a more sustainable and humane system.”
Booker’s bill would also strengthen the Packers and Stockyards Act “to crack down on the monopolistic practices of multi-national meatpackers and integrators,” and restore mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements.
Cory Booker (D-N.J.)
The new bill uses the EPA’s definition of a large concentrated animal feeding operation, which includes farms with at least 700 dairy cows, 2,500 hogs, 1,000 cattle and 125,000 broiler chickens. Up to $100 billion over a decade would be set aside for voluntary buyouts to owners who want to transition to other types of agriculture, or to help pay off any outstanding debt.
“Our independent family farmers and ranchers are continuing to be squeezed by large, multinational corporations that, because of their buying power and size, run roughshod over the marketplace. We need to fix the broken system – that means protecting family farmers and ranchers and holding corporate integrators responsible for the harm they are causing,” Booker said in a news release. “Large factory farms are harmful to rural communities, public health, and the environment and we must immediately begin to transition to a more sustainable and humane system."
The Farm System Reform Act of 2019 would:
- Phase out CAFOs by 2040
- Hold corporate integrators responsible for pollution caused by CAFOs
- Provide a voluntary buyout for farmers who want to transition out of a CAFO
- Prohibit the use of tournament or ranking systems for paying contract growers
- Protect livestock and poultry growers from retaliation
- Create market transparency and protect farmers and ranchers from predatory purchasing practices
- Restore mandatory country-of-origin labeling requirements for beef and pork and expand to dairy products
- Prohibit the USDA from labeling foreign imported meat products as “Product of USA”
Supporting organizations include Family Farm Action, Indiana Farmers Union, Pennsylvania Farmers Union, American Grassfed Association, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Women Food and Agriculture Network, Missouri's Food for America, Family Dairy Farms LLC, American Public Health Association, Food & Water Action, Center for Food Safety, Public Justice, Waterkeeper Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council and Mighty Earth.