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U.S. Senator Cory Booker. Photo courtesy of Cory 2020.

Booker bill would restrict some meat-industry practices

By Nikita Biryukov, May 07 2020 11:48 am

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker is teaming up with another former presidential candidate in an attempt to impose restrictions on some large-scale factory farms.

“Our food system was not broken by the pandemic and it was not broken by independent family farmers. It was broken by large, multinational corporations like Tyson, Smithfield, and JBS that, because of their buying power and size, have undue influence over the marketplace and over public policy,” Booker said. “That undue influence was on full display with President Trump’s recent executive order prioritizing meatpacker profits over the health and safety of workers.”

Four large multi-national firms produce more than 80% of the country’s beef.

Booker’s Farm System Reform Act would force meatpacking companies to openly bid on contracts related to livestock procurement and prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture from labeling imported meat products as U.S.-made.

“We need to fix this broken system,” Booker said. “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.”

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, once a rival for the presidential nomination, has signed onto the bill as a cosponsor.

“For years, regulators looked the other way while giant multinational corporations crushed competition in the agriculture sector and seized control over key markets. 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,” Warren said. “We need to attack this consolidation head-on and give workers, farmers, and consumers bargaining power in our farm and food system. I’m glad to partner with Senator Booker and Representative Khanna to start reversing the hyper-concentration in our farm economy.”

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