WASHINGTON — US Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) recently announced new legislation to hold corporations responsible for disaster mitigation and humane animal handling practices.
The Industrial Agriculture Accountability Act would require factory farms to register with the US Department of Agriculture, submit disaster preparedness plans and establish a fund for disaster events, called the High-Risk AFO Disaster Mitigation Fund.
“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,” Booker said. “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. 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.”
The legislation covers practices like line-speed increases, livestock transportation and animal slaughter, including the prohibition of slaughtering all downed animals.
Additionally, the legislation would invest resources for higher-welfare slaughter technology and create a pilot training program for part-time inspectors at small processing facilities.
Booker said during the COVID-19 pandemic, the total number of depopulated animals and slaughter conditions were not required for companies to report. USDA and other public health officials aided in the depopulation of animals.
“When natural disasters like bird flu and extreme weather strike, industrial livestock operations incur huge losses,” said Craig Watts, former contract poultry grower and field team operations director for Socially Responsible Agriculture Project. “These losses are too often shouldered by contract farmers, rural communities, and government. It’s time we stop allowing multibillion-dollar corporations to externalize the cost of their high-risk operations. The Industrial Agriculture Accountability Act shifts the burden to where it belongs: the backs of Big Agribusiness.”