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Presidential candidate aims to close CAFOs by 2040

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer
Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker has proposed legislation that would place a moratorium on new CAFOs and require existing ones to close by January 2040.

Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker would like to see all CAFOs closed by 2040.

Booker unveiled legislation that would ban feedlots and new CAFOs (controlled animal feeding operations) and require existing ones to close as part of the Farm System Reform Act of 2019. The legislation would provide a voluntary buyout for farmers who want to transition out of operating a CAFO.

The presidential hopeful said the legislation was an attempt to "transition to a more sustainable and humane system" while helping to revitalize independent family farms and to ensure a level playing field for all farmers and ranchers.

According to a news release, Booker said the Farm System Reform Act of 2019 would, among other things, strengthen the Packers & Stockyards Act in order to crack down on "the monopolistic practices of multi-national meatpackers and corporate integrators", and restore mandatory country-of-origin labeling requirements.

Booker claims that a "handful of firms have come to dominate the processing of livestock and poultry" by forcing small contract farmers to raise the animals while absorbing all the risks and costs.

The New Jersey senator, a vegan since 2014, told a vegan social media outlet that "it’s small farmers who are treating animals with better care and compassion, who are treating the environment in a more sustainable way that really speak to the farming traditions of our country being destroyed economically because of this corporate consolidation that is unsustainable".

“Our 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. We need to fix the broken system – that means protecting family farmers and ranchers and holding corporate integrators responsible for the harm they are causing,” Booker said in the release. “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."

The Farm System Reform Act of 2019 would:

  • Place an immediate moratorium on new and expanding large CAFOs, and phase out CAFOs by 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
  • Prohibit the use of tournament or ranking systems for paying contract growers.

  • Protect livestock and poultry farmers from retaliation.

  • Create market transparency and protect farmers and ranchers from predatory purchasing practices.

  • Restore mandatory country-of-origin labeling requirements for beef and pork and expand to dairy products

  • Prohibit the USDA from labeling foreign imported meat products as “Product of USA”.

Organizations lining up in support of Booker's proposed legislation include: Family Farm Action, Indiana Farmers Union, Pennsylvania Farmers Union, American Grassfed Association, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Women Food and Agriculture Network, Missouri's Food for America, Family Dairy Farms LLC, American Public Health Association, Food & Water Action, Center for Food Safety, Public Justice, Waterkeeper Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council and Mighty Earth.