The week, Democratic presidential candidate and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker announced legislation to phase out concentrated animal feeding operations, known as CAFOs.
The Senator says his proposed Farm System Reform Act of 2019 is an attempt to “transition to a more sustainable and humane system.” Booker’s bill also goes after what he calls “monopolistic practices of multi-national meatpackers” and would reinstate mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements.
The New Jersey Democrat says the bill would place an immediate moratorium on new and expanding large CAFOs and by 2040 the bill would phase out existing large CAFOs. The EPA defines large concentrated animal feeding operations as those farms or facilities with at least 700 dairy cows, 1,000 head of cattle on feed, 2,500 hogs or 125,000 broilers.
Over the course of a decade, a $100 billion would be set aside for voluntary buyouts for producers who either want to transition to other types of agriculture production, or pay off outstanding debt.
In a news release, Booker said that, “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.” He says that to protect family farms and ranches, corporate integrators need to be held responsible for the “harm they are causing.” Booker labels CAFOs as “large factory farms,” claiming the operations “are harmful to rural communities, public health, and the environment, adding “we must immediately begin to transition to a more sustainable and humane system.”
When it comes to meat labeling, the legislation would also restore mandatory country-of-origin labeling requirements for beef and pork as well as expand to dairy products. Additionally, it would prohibit the Department of Agriculture from labeling foreign imported meat products as “Product of USA.”
As noted by Politico, Booker, a vegan, has said he’s not interested in telling Americans what to eat. However, proposing sweeping reforms to the U.S. food system is routine for the Senator.