Support the Farm System Reform Act - Waterkeeper

Support the Farm System Reform Act

By: Thomas Hynes

Photo by Federal District Court for Eastern North Carolina

The Farm System Reform Act was recently introduced by Senator Cory Booker (NJ) and Representative Ro Khanna (CA) into both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. If passed, this bill would help rein in the monopolistic practices of the agriculture industry, invest billions in the transition to a more resilient food system, and finally start transitioning us away from concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, to more regenerative practices by truly independent farmers and ranchers. 

It is crucial that Congress act now to protect farmers, consumers, and the environment before the situation gets even worse. Join us in contacting your Members of Congress today in support of this historic legislation. 

Multinational corporations have nearly made the independent family farmer a thing of the past. The animal agriculture industry, specifically meat and livestock producers, has undergone hyper consolidation over the last few decades. A handful of companies control the majority of the market. Not surprisingly, they also have an oversized influence on federal farm policy. 

These market conditions hurt both the contract growers for the industry and what independent farmers remain. They end up earning less money, while working the same long hours, all while large multinational conglomerates earn record profits. 

Our current food system squashes competition and choice, not to mention any kind of level playing field for small, local, independent farms. All of this also negatively impacts the consumer, who faces diminished choices at the grocery store and often higher prices at checkout. 

Critically, this bill would also address the practice of CAFOs, which are major sources of water pollution. CAFOs produce untenable amounts of animal waste, which contaminates waterways and drinking water. Large CAFOs can produce over 1.6 million tons of waste each year, which is often not required to be treated before being sprayed directly onto land and eventually ends up in waterways as runoff.  

These multinational monopolies are hurting farmers, consumers, and our environment. Join us in demanding Congress take action today.

Specifically, the Farm System Reform Act would: 

  • Place an immediate moratorium on new and expanding large CAFOs
  • Phase out large CAFOs by 2040
  • Hold corporations responsible for pollution and other harm caused by CAFOs 
  • Offer voluntary buyouts to farmers looking to transition away from the CAFO system
  • Bolster the Packers and Stockyards Act to create true market transparency, protect ranchers and farmers from predatory purchasing, and shield them against retaliation
  • Restore mandatory country-of-origin labeling for beef and pork products with an expansion to dairy. 

We cannot afford to entrust our food systems to corporate monopolies that are only motivated by profit. It’s time to return to a regenerative farming system run by independent farmers and away from this current state, where a handful of companies control our food system without accountability. We must loosen the grips corporate agriculture has on farmers and our food supply. Congress must put the interests of family farmers, consumers, and the environment over those of corporations. 

It’s time to repair this broken system.

Your support can help turn this proposed legislation into a reality. Contact your Members of Congress today in support of this urgently needed legislation.