Today, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) reintroduced the Farm System Reform Act and the Industrial Agriculture Accountability Act into the 118th Congress. These bills continue to give us hope that factory farming will someday be in the rearview mirror.
While 2022 was brimming with victories for farmed animals, structural barriers embedded deeply within our nation's laws and regulations continue to support factory farming. These laws—or in other cases, lack of laws—make it easier for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to make profits and harder for small, higher welfare and crop-based farms to make ends meet.
Virtually all federal crop subsidies go to livestock feed, such as corn and soy, which artificially lowers the price of inputs for factory farms while leaving out ranchers who pasture-feed their animals and farmers who grow plant-based food, such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Powerful, vertically integrated meat companies dupe farmers into entering misleading contracts, where they are forced to incur substantial debt and are paid less than they were promised. CAFO owners also enjoy little environmental regulation, enabling them to externalize the costs of their pollution onto neighboring communities. If we are to eradicate factory farming, we must see significant changes in our federal food production policies.
In recent years, Senator Cory Booker has introduced two major bills to address some of these structural flaws: the Farm System Reform Act and the Industrial Agriculture Accountability Act.
Unveiled in 2019, the Farm System Reform Act (FSRA) would ban the construction or expansion of large concentrated animal feeding operations and eventually ban all large CAFOs by 2040. In addition, the bill would offer debt forgiveness and grants to any CAFO owner who wishes to transition to either higher-welfare or plant-based farming. Toward the end of 2022, the Senator introduced another bill, the Industrial Agriculture Accountability Act (IAA), which would hold factory farm owners responsible for preventing animal suffering and either mitigating or paying for damages to contract workers and nearby communities during natural disasters.
While Big Ag still retains oversized influence in American politics, the calls for food production reform are growing increasingly formidable. The FSRA had 44 cosponsors between the House and Senate last year, plus the endorsement of dozens of organizations and celebrities. In addition, multiple states and counties across the nation have attempted —with some success— to stop the construction and expansion of CAFOs within their borders, illustrating support and paving the way for a nationwide moratorium. The Biden Administration has also taken steps to rein in the meat industry's outsized power by developing a strategic plan to increase market competition, enforcing anti-trust and price fixing laws, and investigating abuse and fairness concerns in the poultry industry's tournament system.
Together, these efforts from both the executive and legislative branches can help dismantle the Big Ag behemoth to save animals, nature, people, and the planet. You can help by sending a message to your representatives urging them to support the Farm System Reform Act and the Industrial Agriculture Accountability Act.