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Legislation would ban CAFOs, reinstate COOL

Legislative Watch: Immigrant farmworkers important to U.S. ag; House Ag approves $43 billion for broadband expansion; National Hot Dog Month.

P. Scott Shearer

July 23, 2021

4 Min Read
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Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J., has reintroduced the "Farm System Reform Act" which would strengthen the Packers & Stockyards Act, place a moratorium on CAFOs, and reinstate mandatory country-of-origin labeling for beef and pork and expand to include dairy products.

Senator Booker said: "Large, multinational meatpackers, because of their buying power and size, are putting our food system at risk and harming everyone along the supply chain. We need to fix the broken system – that means giving family farmers and ranchers a fair shot and holding corporate integrators responsible for the harm they are causing. We must immediately begin to transition to a more sustainable and humane system. An important first step is ending our reliance on huge factory farms and investing in a system that focuses on resilient and regenerative production."

The legislation 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.

  • Hold corporate integrators responsible for pollution and other harm caused by CAFOs.

  • Provide a voluntary buyout for farmers who want to transition out of operating a CAFO.

  • 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; and 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 to dairy products.

  • Prohibit the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) from labeling foreign imported meat products as “Product of USA.”

Those supporting the legislation include the United Food & Commercial Workers International (UFCW), Food and Water Watch, Farm Sanctuary and Family Farm Action. 

Representative Ro Khanna, D-Calif., introduced the bill in the House of Representatives.

Immigrant farmworkers important to U.S. agriculture

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack called for Congressional action to provide legal status and a path to citizenship for farmworkers during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on "Immigrant Farmworkers are Essential to Feeding America." Vilsack said that U.S. agriculture is dependent upon immigrant workers, and action is needed to secure a reliable workforce for U.S. agriculture. 

Agricultural witnesses emphasized the severe workforce shortages and agriculture's dependence on foreign employees.

National Pork Producers Council President Jen Sorenson said the current H-2A program is designed for seasonal agriculture and does not work for the pork industry.

"If the labor shortage is not addressed, it could lead to farms and packing plants shutting down, causing serious financial harm to the communities in which they operate,” said Sorenson. “As a result, pork production would be constrained, leading to higher food prices for consumers and the United States becoming an unreliable trading partner for the many countries around the world that rely on our pork."

Lienna Kooistra, a farmer from Illinois, said her family sold its dairy herd in 2018 because they were afraid they would lose their immigrant workforce. Kooistra said, "If the U.S. Dairy industry lost its foreign-born workforce, it would nearly double retail milk prices and cost the U.S. economy more than $32 billion, according to a study by Texas A & M University."

Various Republican Senators called the legislation amnesty and said the U.S. needs to secure its border before considering this type of legislation.

The House of Representatives earlier this year passed the "Farm Workforce Modernization Act" which would provide a legal and reliable workforce. It was supported by over 250 organizations.

House Ag approves $43 billion for broadband expansion

The House Agriculture Committee unanimously passed the bipartisan "Broadband Internet Connections for Rural America Act" which will provide $43 billion to increase broadband service nationwide. 

The bill authorizes $4.5 billion annually for USDA's ReConnect Rural Broadband program starting in FY '22 and running through FY '29 to provide loans and grants. USDA is to give priority to unserved communities, communities with less than 10,000 residents, and areas with a high percentage of low-income families.

This program was established as a pilot program in 2018 and expires on June 30, 2022.

National Hot Dog Month

July is National Hot Dog Month, a time to celebrate one of America's favorite foods. The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (NHDSC) estimates that Americans eat 20 billion hot dogs per year. It is estimated that 19.4 million hot dogs and sausages are consumed each year at baseball parks.

The top 10 hot dog consuming cities are Los Angeles, New York, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Houston, Atlanta, Tampa, and Phoenix. 

 

Sources: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly own the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

 

 

About the Author(s)

P. Scott Shearer

Vice President, Bockorny Group, Inc.

Scott Shearer is vice president of the Bockorny Group Inc., a leading bipartisan government affairs consulting firm in Washington, D.C. With more than 30 years experience in government and corporate relations in state and national arenas, he is recognized as a leader in agricultural trade issues, having served as co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for U.S.-China Trade and co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for Trade Promotion Authority. Scott was instrumental in the passage of China Permanent Normal Trade Relations and TPA. He is past chairman of the USDA-USTR Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products and was a member of the USAID Food Security Advisory Committee. Prior to joining the Bockorny Group, Scott served as director of national relations for Farmland Industries Inc., as well as USDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs (1993-96), serving as liaison for the Secretary of Agriculture and the USDA to Congress.

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