DearColleague.us

Letter

Ro Khanna

From the office of:

Ro Khanna

Sending Office: Honorable Ro Khanna
Sent By:
kevin.fox@mail.house.gov

        Request for Cosponsor(s)

Cosponsor the Farm System Reform Act

Original Cosponsor Deadline May 4th

Cosponsors: Rep. Haaland

Supporting Organizations: American Grassfed Association, American Public Health Association, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Family Dairy Farms LLC, Family Farm Action, Food & Water Action, Indiana Farmers Union,
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Mighty Earth, Missouri’s Food for America, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pennsylvania Farmers Union, Public Justice, Waterkeeper Alliance, and Women Food and Agriculture
Network

 

Dear Colleague,

I invite you to cosponsor the Farm System Reform Act of 2020, a companion measure to S.3221 sponsored by Senator Cory Booker. It protects family farmers from anti-competitive practices and corporate consolidation by strengthening the Packers & Stockyards
Act. It places a moratorium on factory farms, commonly known as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). It ensures that livestock products that are labeled as a “Product of the USA” are not repackaged imports and are entirely raised in the United States.

As we work to overcome the pandemic, this bill makes our food system more resilient and supports family farmers. Americans are finding empty shelves at their grocery stores, while farmers are being forced to dump supply.[1]
Our food system is broken and the pandemic has shined a light on the flaws of agribusiness consolidation.

Economic Concentration and Integrators

Economic concentration in agriculture has been hurting our country, especially rural America, for decades. The top four beef packing companies control nearly 85% of the market. The top four pork packers control 71% of the market. Just four companies control
90% of the entire global grain trade.[2] These companies have too much market power, and it comes at the expense of family farmers. They earn just 14.6 cents of every dollar spent on food.[3]
Rural communities suffer when revenue is funneled out of the local economy and into the pockets of corporate agribusinesses.

Many poultry and hog processing companies are vertically integrated and, through contracts with farmers, control the way poultry and livestock are fed, medicated, and confined. Integrators impose equipment and capital requirements on farmers, who “take on
debt, often in excess of $1 million, to build out, maintain, and regularly upgrade vast barns, tailored to company specifications.”[4] Farmers often cannot make a living because the cost of
operations is too high while the price for their products, also set by contract, is too low. Integrated agribusinesses pass the risks of poultry and livestock operations onto farmers while keeping the profits. Independent beef cattle producers also face hardship
from selling into a highly consolidated market. Beef packing companies manipulate cattle prices and drive down farm revenue.

CAFO Concerns

The numerous environmental and public health risks from CAFO pollution led the American Public Health Association in November 2019 to call for a moratorium on new and expanding CAFOs.[5]
Moreover, a survey from John Hopkins University found broad support for bold action to address those risks. Eighty percent of respondents “expressed concern about air and water pollution, worker safety, and health problems caused by CAFOs.” A majority supported
“greater oversight of existing industrial animal farms” and a plurality supported “a national ban on new CAFOs.”[6]

Bill Summary

The Farm System Reform Act of 2020 would:

  • Place an immediate moratorium on new and expanding large CAFOs, and phase out by 2040 the largest CAFOs as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency[7]
  • Provide a voluntary buyout for farmers who want to transition out of operating a CAFO
  • Hold corporate integrators responsible for pollution and other harm caused by CAFOs
  • Strengthen the Packers and Stockyards Act to protect family farmers and ranchers, including:
    • Prohibit the use of unfair tournament or ranking systems for paying contract growers
    • Protect livestock and poultry farmers from retaliation
    • Create market transparency and protect farmers and ranchers from predatory purchasing practices
  • Restore mandatory country-of-origin labeling requirements for beef and pork and expand it to dairy products
  • Prohibit the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) from labeling foreign imported meat products as “Product of USA”

Additional details can be found in the
title by title summary
or the
full bill text
. If you would like to cosponsor the bill or have additional questions, please contact Kevin Fox on my staff. He can be reached at
kevin.fox@mail.house.gov. The deadline to become an original cosponsor is close of business, May 4th.

 

Sincerely,

 

Ro Khanna

Member of Congress

 


[1]
https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/05/food-waste-coronavirus-pandemic-164557

[2]
https://openmarketsinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/190322_MonopolyFoodReport-v7.pdf

[3]
https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-dollar-series/documentation.aspx

[4]
https://www.motherjones.com/food/2019/12/cory-booker-just-went-all-in-against-factory-farming-and-the-meat-industry/

[5]https://www.apha.org/policies-and-advocacy/public-health-policy-statements/policy-database/2020/01/13/precautionary-moratorium-on-new-and-expanding-concentrated-animal-feeding-operations

[6]
https://clf.jhsph.edu/about-us/news/news-2019/survey-majority-voters-surveyed-support-greater-oversight-industrial-animal

[7]
https://www3.epa.gov/npdes/pubs/sector_table.pdf

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Agriculture, Environment, Labor

icon eDC logo e-Dear Colleague version 2.0
 
e-Dear Colleagues are intended for internal House use only.