Booker's Boondoggle


By Greg Henderson, Opinion, Drovers

July 15, 2021


To hear Sen. Cory Booker tell it, the Farm Systems Reform Act (FSRA) would “create a level playing field for independent family farmers” and “transform the broken system built by multi-national meatpacking companies.”


Specifically, FSRA would “strengthen the Packers & Stockyards Act,” prohibit the use of a tournament or ranking system for paying contract poultry growers, and “require country of origin labeling (COOL) on beef, pork, and dairy products, and for other purposes.” Those are the populist notes Booker needed to hit to gather endorsements from a herd of more than 90 NGAs, ranging from Mercy for Animals, Farm Sanctuary and Earthjustice to the Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, and even The Alliance of Baptists. Whew.


We can agree the P&SA and COOL provisions have legitimate supporters and detractors. But, Booker (and California Rep. Ro Khanna, who introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives) seem intent on poisoning the proposal with a pair of non-starters: 1) A moratorium on large, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO); 2) Authorizing $100 billion over 10 years to buyout CAFOs and cover transition costs for alternative agriculture activities such as raising pasture-based livestock.


Yep, Booker proposes to legislate an end to all “factory farms” (his term) by Jan. 1, 2040. For cattle, Booker sets a size limit of 1,000 head for operations that exist beyond 2040. If that sounds like it was written by a vegan it’s because it was – Booker has been vegan since election day 2014. While FSRA seeks to drive feedyards out of business, Booker’s plan would soften the blow with a government buyout that would help transition those operations to grass-fed beef.


The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association quickly responded to FSRA...


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