Farm System Recovery Act Reintroduced by Senator Booker in U.S. Senate
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker reintroduced his Farm System Reform Act, a bill he says would “transform a broken system.” Similar legislation was introduced in the House by Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA). The lawmakers claim the legislation will “create a level playing field” for independent family farms.
The Farm System Reform Act, however, targets more than just big meat packers. It would place an immediate moratorium on new and expanding concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and force the largest ones to close by 2040. To make that possible, the Farm System Reform Act would authorize $100 billion over 10 years for voluntary buyouts of CAFOs.
Those funds could be used to partially or fully pay off outstanding debt on those CAFOs, or to cover transition costs to alternative agriculture activities – raising pasture-based livestock, growing specialty crops or organic commodity production.
The Farm System Reform Act would:
- Force cattle feedlots of more than 1,000 head to close by Jan. 1, 2040
-Hold corporate integrators responsible for pollution and other harm caused by CAFOs
- Provide a voluntary buyout for farmers who want to transition out of operating a CAFO
- Strengthen the Packers and Stockyards Act to protect family farmers and ranchers
- Restore mandatory country-of-origin labeling requirements for beef and pork and expand to dairy products
- Prohibit the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) from labeling foreign imported meat products as “Product of USA”
“Large, multinational meatpackers, because of their buying power and size, are putting our food system at risk and harming everyone along the supply chain. We need to fix the broken system – that means giving family farmers and ranchers a fair shot and holding corporate integrators responsible for the harm they are causing,” said Senator Booker. “We must immediately begin to transition to a more sustainable and humane system. An important first step is ending our reliance on huge factory farms and investing in a system that focuses on resilient and regenerative production.”
Numerous agriculture leaders came out in support of the legislation, arguing that reducing the corporate structure of production agriculture returns the power back to the hands of the farmers and ranchers.
Although some of the initiatives in the bill, like Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling and beefing up the Packers and Stockyards Administration are supported by Kansas Cattlemen’s Association, the closure of feeding operations in excess of 1,000 head by 2040 is not in the best interest of independent cattle producers.
“There are better tools for providing safe, wholesome, and humane animal agriculture production besides limiting the size of cattle feeding operations. The objective of this bill is simply to reduce or eliminate the production of animal agriculture,” stated KCA Executive Director, Tyler Dupy. “There are proposals in the bill that the industry can certainly rally around, and we appreciate Senator Booker’s attention to mCOOL and P&S, but this bill seeks to eliminate from the supply chain our ability to consistently and sustainably finish our final product.”