Indianapolis, Indiana, December 28 11:30pm New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, the first vegan member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, recently announced a new piece of farmed animal welfare legislation, the Industrial Agriculture Accountability Act (IAA). The IAA is a bill created, in part, as a response to what critics have described as the horrific treatment of pigs, chickens, turkeys and cows during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the early months of the pandemic, Covid-ridden slaughterhouses were temporarily shut down, and the USDA provided aid to livestock companies in the mass killing (referred to as “depopulation”) of millions of animals, meaning that taxpayer dollars supported these acts. The Guardian reports that the methods used in these mass animal killings are so cruel and traumatizing, “According to one study, 10% of surveyed swine veterinarians involved in on-farm culling have thought about suicide and 23% reported needing mental health counseling.”
“Our food system is fundamentally broken. It fails to reflect our collective values,” says Senator Booker.
Booker’s new legislation aims to stop these brutal mass animal killings from happening again by requiring animal agriculture corporations to submit disaster preparedness plans and pay into a new fund, the High-Risk AFO Disaster Mitigation Fund, that will be used to ensure and enforce humane disaster mitigation in the future.
“The Industrial Agriculture Accountability Act would place the liability for disasters where it belongs–on the corporations and industrial operators who profit the most from factory farming and ensure farmed animals are not subjugated to cruel and inhumane practices,” says Booker.
The new farmed animal welfare legislation would also close some regulatory loopholes, end slaughter line-speed increases, and require more humane treatment of livestock animals being transported for long periods of time.
The bill also includes investments in “higher-welfare slaughter technology,” and a pilot program to increase the number of inspectors for small processing plants.
Booker is on a Mission to End Factory Farming
The IAA chips away at the federal farm policies that benefit multinational corporate meat producers, but Booker has a vision for ending the factory farm system.
In 2021, he reintroduced The Farm System Reform Act, a bill that would place a moratorium on large factory farms, often referred to as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The bill was co-sponsored by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and endorsed by the ASPCA, Farm Sanctuary, and Mercy for Animals, among others.
Senator Booker reminds us that we cannot forget the work that must be done to improve the quality of life for animals currently viewed in our society as livestock and poultry. Says Booker, “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.”
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Carrie Woods is a writer based in Indiana who comes from a family of journalists.