In December, U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey introduced a historic new vision for agriculture and food in the United States. The Farm System Reform Act would overhaul our unsustainable food and agriculture model and strengthen the Packers & Stockyards Act to give independent family farmers a fighting chance against monopolistic, corporate integrators. It restores mandatory Country of Origin Labeling, so consumers know where their food is coming from.
What makes it truly revolutionary, though, is that it calls for an end to factory farming. The Farm System Reform Act is the first ever national factory farm ban legislation.
To achieve this sweeping overhaul of our food system, Booker’s bill provides a $100 billion voluntary buyout program for contract farmers who want to transition away from factory farming. Through an immediate moratorium on the construction of new or expanding large factory farms, the bill initiates a phaseout of existing large factory farms by 2040.
The Farm System Reform Act also contains mechanisms to hold meat companies accountable for the harm caused by factory farms. Through the creation of new support programs, factory farms can transition to alternative agriculture production such as pasture-based livestock, specialty crop cultivation, or organic commodity production. This legislation is a huge first step in restructuring our food and agriculture system so that it works for our farmers, our communities, and our environment rather than a handful of multi-billion dollar corporations.
Senator Booker isn’t the only one challenging the factory farm industry. Over the past year, we have seen seven presidential candidates come out in support of a factory farm moratorium. It’s not hard to imagine why when they have spent so many hours traveling across Iowa, the land of 10,000 factory farms.
The harmful impacts of the industry are visible in every corner of the state. Factory farms have polluted our water resulting in more than 760 impaired waterways throughout the state. Factory farms have increased corporate control of our ag sector, pigeonholing independent family farmers and local meat processors and running them out of business. Factory farms have furthered the climate crisis, relying heavily on fossil fuels and generating vast quantities of greenhouse gases. The factory farm industry creates disastrous ramifications for our planet as a whole, but our local communities bear the brunt of this harmful industry.
In Iowa, ground zero of the factory farm crisis, state legislators have also taken notice. According to recent polling by John Hopkins Center for a Liveable Future, 63 percent of Iowans support a moratorium on factory farms. Democratic State Representative Sharon Steckman and State Senator Claire Celsi have responded to constituents’ concerns by once again introducing legislation calling for […]