Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations classified as “large” would be phased out by 2040 under a bill Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., announced on Monday. The legislation would also restore country-of-origin labeling for beef and pork and add COOL requirements for dairy products.
Booker’s bill, which has yet to be officially introduced, also would rewrite the Packers and Stockyards Act to “prohibit the use of unfair tournament or ranking systems for paying contract growers [and] protect livestock and poultry farmers from retaliation,” according to a press release from his office.
“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,” said Booker, who is among the field of contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination.
"This legislation by Senator Booker has been a long time coming and may be the light at the end of the tunnel for family farmers,” Mike Weaver, president of the Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias, said in the release. “Without changes such as this to the abusive contracts and other requirements of the huge multinational meatpackers and poultry integrators, the extinction of the family farmer as we have known them is imminent.”
“Farmers and ranchers need a marketplace that compensates them fairly and Senator Booker's Farm System Reform Act is a big step in the right direction,” Callicrate said. “Things like country of origin labeling on meat, updates to the Packers and Stockyards Act, and resources to get folks out of a system that is bankrupting them will make a big difference."
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, however, criticized the legislation. “Mr. Booker is a vegan activist from an urban part of New Jersey who doesn’t understand how the food his constituents consume is produced,” said Ethan Lane, NCBA vice president for government affairs. “This bill is a reflection of that lack of understanding.”
Lane continued, “Make no mistake about it: While Senator Booker claims that he’s standing up for the ‘little guy,’ his legislation would significantly increase the cost of food for consumers who can least afford it — and would ultimately lead to further consolidation in the industry. While he claims to be standing up for the environment, banning efficient and responsible feeding methods means it will take longer to grow cattle to full size, thereby actually increasing impacts on the environment.”
Under the bill, no large CAFO could start operating or expand its operations once the bill is enacted. EPA defines large CAFOs as having 700 or more mature dairy cattle, 1,000 or more cattle or cow/calf pairs, 10,000 or more hogs, or 125,000 or more chickens, considering some of the more common animals.
The bill also would offer grants “to cover costs relating to the transition of the property on which the AFO is located to be used for alternative agriculture activities, such as raising pasture-based livestock, growing specialty crops, or organic commodity production.”
The bill’s summary says the bill authorizes $100 billion for the transition program. The bill has no co-sponsors.
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