Representative Ro Khanna recently introduced a companion bill to the Farm System Reform Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation mirrors the bill that was introduced at the end of 2019 by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, which aims at phasing out large-scale factory farming by 2040. The reform bill is purported to provide more favorable market conditions for smaller, independent farmers.
“Our food system was not broken by the pandemic and it was not broken by independent family farmers,” Booker said in a news release. “We need to fix this broken system. That means protecting family farmers and food system workers and holding corporate integrators responsible for the harm they are causing. 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.”
If the law is passed, the Farm System Reform Act would enact an immediate moratorium on any new concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) opening. The legislation would also limit further expansion of any existing CAFOs. The bill would also provide $100 billion over the next 10 years to assist farmers with buyouts and debt forgiveness, as well as helping former CAFO-owners transition to alternative production methods. Although initially introduced back in December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an added focus on the animal agriculture sector.
“For years, regulators looked the other way while giant multinational corporations crushed competition in the agriculture sector and seized control over key markets,” said Warren. “The COVID-19 crisis will make it easier for Big Ag to get even bigger, gobble up smaller farms, and lead to fewer choices for consumers. We need to attack this consolidation head-on and give workers, farmers, and consumers bargaining power in our farm and food system.”