July 29, 2021

Farm System Reform Act Introduced

Farm System Reform Act Introduced 

The Farm System Reform Act was recently reintroduced by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA) to create a more resilient food system. The Farm System Reform Act was first introduced by Booker and Khanna in 2019 and 2020, respectively, with no traction. 

“We need to fix the broken system – that means giving family farmers and ranchers a fair shot and holding corporate integrators responsible for the harm they are causing,” said Booker in a press release. “We must immediately begin to transition to a more sustainable and humane system. An important first step is ending our reliance on huge factory farms and investing in a system that focuses on resilient and regenerative production.” 

The act places a strong emphasis on removing concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) by placing an immediate moratorium on new and expanding large CAFOs, and phase out by 2040 the largest CAFOs, hold corporate integrators responsible for pollution and other harm caused by CAFOs, and provide a voluntary buyout for farmers who want to transition out of operating a CAFO. 

The legislation also states it will strengthen the Packers and Stockyards Act to protect family farmers and ranchers by prohibiting the use of unfair tournament or ranking systems for paying contract growers, protecting livestock and poultry farmers from retaliation, and creating market transparency and protect farmers and ranchers from predatory purchasing practices. Lastly, the act will restore mandatory country-of-origin labeling (MCOOL) requirements for beef and pork and expand to dairy products and prohibit the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) from labeling foreign imported meat products as “Product of USA”.

This bill does not have support from some within the agricultural industry. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane stated the “misguided” act “is the kind of broad, jumbled mess you get when you’re more focused on Twitter and talking points than the sound legislating rural Americans need.” Lane does include that NCBA is glad to see certain issues addressed within the bill. “NCBA has long been on the forefront of issues like accurate ‘Product of the USA’ labeling, competitive and transparent markets, and a more resilient supply chain. While it is positive to see some of these key producer concerns receiving attention from two new members of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees, we’re also frustrated to see them buried in such a sprawling, misguided package."

The Farm System Reform Act is supported by a variety of organizations, such as the National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association, Family Farm Action, American Public Health Association, and the Texas Coalition of Rural Landowners. Read the full list of supporters here

Read a summary of the act here.