Has Cory Booker convinced Bernie Sanders to go vegan? Well, not exactly (yet!), but he did get the Vermont senator and former presidential candidate to sign on as a sponsor to his new bill that will ban factory farming by the year 2040. The Farm System Reform Act (FSRA), strives to "place a moratorium on large concentrated animal feeding operations." The bill also will strengthen a law from 1921 that protects workers and farmers since during COVID-19 many people at plants got sick and the large meat producers were forced to shut down because of unsafe conditions in the plants.

The law would also "require country of origin labeling on beef, pork, and dairy products, and for other purposes."

Beyond regulation, the bill also seeks to ban large Concentrated Animal Feeding Organizations (CAFO), or factory farms, by the year 2040, and prevents large CAFOs from starting or expanding after the date that the bill is enacted. Sanders has signed on as a co-sponsor to this legislation along with House Rep. Ro Khanna and Senator Elizabeth Warren, who both backed the bill in May.

Booker Has a Unique Perspective on the Farm System Reform Act

Senator Booker has been a vegetarian since 1992 and ultimately went vegan in 2014, which offers him a unique perspective when it comes to the agricultural industry. His website sheds a little background information on the need for the FSRA act, citing the monopolistic nature of the agricultural industry: "A handful of firms have come to dominate the processing of livestock and poultry. Many of these firms are vertically integrated, controlling successive stages of the food chain. These “integrators” contract with farmers to raise livestock or poultry for them. The integrators retain ownership of the animals, but the contract growers are forced to absorb the risks and the costs, often incurring large amounts of debt."

“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,” said Senator Booker. “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.”

Factory Farming in the Age of Coronavirus

Although the FSRA act was introduced in December of 2019, it could not be timelier right now: The coronavirus pandemic in large part has exposed the weaknesses of factory farming, with major meat producers having to close due to shortages, meat demand falling as plant-based options are on the rise, and many processing plant employees getting infected with the COVID-19 virus. A recent report by ProVeg cited factory farming as the "single most risky behavior" that could spur another pandemic.

If you agree with the need to halt the destructive practices of factory farming and help to protect independent and small farmers against CAFOs, you can visit ProVeg's tool which helps you contact your representatives to let them know that this is an important piece of legislation.

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