U.S. Senator Cory Booker Introduces New Bill To Protect Farm Animals & Hold Factory Farms Accountable
Senator Cory Booker has just announced a new bill, The Industrial Agriculture Accountability Act of 2022 (IAA), that could help reduce the suffering of farm animals in the United States.
The new bill aims to better protect animals and the American people by holding the industrial operators of high-risk Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) accountable for the damage that they cause when their systems fail. These industrial agribusiness facilities, also known as “factory farms,” raise large numbers of farm animals such as pigs and chickens in intensive confinement where their movements and natural behaviors are restricted.
The bill would also ensure that industrial operators aren’t using inhumane methods in other aspects of the food production system by ending line-speed increases and meatpacker self-inspection programs for animal slaughter. It would also close regulatory loopholes to prohibit the slaughter of all downed animals, and require more humane treatment of livestock transported for long periods of time.
“We’ve seen multiple recent crises that have shined a light on the threat that corporate meat producers and their web of factory farms represent to workers, animals, the environment, and rural communities. Built by agribusinesses, the industrial livestock and poultry system is designed to maximize production– while externalizing risk and liability– to ensure corporate profits even when the system fails,” said Senator Booker. “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.”
Mercy For Animals and ASPCA, along with a coalition of more than 50 animal welfare, public health, labor, environmental, faith-based, and sustainable agriculture organizations, commend Senator Booker for introducing this crucial bill.
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decades-long failure to protect pigs who are too injured, sick, or weak to move and the indication that this inaction will continue, is a serious public health and animal welfare concern,” said Frances Chrzan, federal policy manager of Mercy For Animals.
“While facing the serious consequences of COVID-19 and in the midst of an African swine fever outbreak, Dr. Esteban stated on the record that the Food Safety and Inspection Service would not begin regulations for downed pigs until a disease similar to mad cow disease exists. Mercy For Animals thanks Senator Booker for his leadership on this issue and for supporting transparency in the federal government.”
After the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry convened on September 22, Senator Booker submitted to record a series of questions regarding the welfare of farmed animals who are too sick, injured, or weak to walk or stand without assistance.
Federal regulations to protect these farmed animals, known as “downed” or “nonambulatory animals,” have been contested by the meat industry over the past few decades. As the sick, suffering animals are kept miserably alive solely for meat producers to get them to slaughter, inspection regulations continue to be threatened by the meat industry.
Currently, pre-slaughter inspection regulations exist only to prohibit the slaughter of downed cows and calves, and no such regulations exist for pigs and other farmed animals. In 2014, Mercy For Animals and a handful of other organizations submitted a petition to the USDA to create regulations for downed pigs. After its denial of the petition in 2019, they filed suit against the USDA. This litigation is ongoing.