Over 300 Groups Endorse Farm System Reform Act as Farm Bill Priority

Leading food, agriculture, animal welfare, labor and environmental groups back visionary legislation to reform the food system, revitalize family farming
March 15, 2023

Washington, DC — Today, over 300 local, state and national advocacy organizations sent a letter to the House and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairs and Ranking Members, endorsing the Farm System Reform Act (S. 271 and H.R. 797), introduced by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), as a 2023 Farm Bill priority. The letter was facilitated by the national organizations Food & Water Watch and the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), and signed by groups including the American Public Health Association, Farm Action, Food Chain Worker Alliance, Interfaith Public Health Network, James Beard Foundation, Johns Hopkins Center for A Livable Future, Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, and Waterkeeper Alliance.

Since the last Farm Bill’s passage in 2018, food and agriculture policy has been dominated by a handful of industrial agriculture corporations that have raked in enormous profits at the expense of animal welfare, the environment, workers, families, and rural communities. Over that period, top meat and poultry companies WH Group (parent company of Smithfield), Perdue Farms, Tyson Foods and Cargill have seen revenue increases of 20%, 21%, 33% and nearly 44%, respectively. Despite this meteoric rise in corporate profits, the amount that individual farmers actually earn for every food dollar remains at an all-time low. The Farm System Reform Act is, as the letter states, “visionary legislation [that] meets the scale of action necessary to transform our farming and food system in a timeline that reflects the urgency of its problems.”

Among other things, the Farm System Reform Act would halt the construction of new and expanding factory farms, phasing out existing large factory farms by 2040. It would also provide a $100 billion voluntary buyout program for contract farmers who wish to transition away from the factory farm system toward more sustainable and humane practices. The legislation would also strengthen the Packers & Stockyards Act in line with President Biden’s executive order to promote sector competition, protecting family farmers and ranchers from monopolistic practices. All of these reforms are critical to building a food system that rewards independent farmers, while safeguarding animal welfare, the environment, and public health over corporate profits.

“The broken American food system is working against nearly everyone it touches, from farmers to families buying groceries to workers and communities. In fact, the only winners seem to be the massive, consolidated multinational corporations that dominate our food industry,” said Sen. Cory Booker. “We must all stand together and demand change. I am proud to have this large and diverse coalition of farmers, workers, public health professionals, environmentalists, and animal welfare advocates supporting the Farm System Reform Act.”

“Since 1935, we've lost 4.8 million farms. We are at serious risk of losing an entire generation of family farms to multinational farming corporations unless Congress takes bold action,” said Rep. Ro Khanna. “This year’s Farm Bill should include measures like my Farm System Reform Act with Senator Booker to ensure the American food system maintains fair competition, high animal welfare standards, and a dependable food chain. We must fix this broken system.”

“Corporate dominated federal policymaking is failing rural communities, independent farmers, farmworkers, consumers and our environment. Rebuilding a food system that puts people and the environment first, means putting an end to the scourge of factory farming,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, an organizer of the letter. “The Farm System Reform Act is the bold answer to the challenges we face. We urge its passage in the 2023 Farm Bill to build a fair farm bill for all.”

“The suffering built into the American food system is unconscionable, but not unsolvable. Legislation to end systemic farm animal cruelty—including the Farm System Reform Act— would support the transition away from destructive factory farming,” said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA president and CEO. “We thank Senator Booker and Representative Khanna for championing this necessary legislation to protect animals from unimaginable cruelty, and urge Congress to pass a Farm Bill that includes these reforms aligned with Americans’ concern and compassion for the billions of animals raised for food each year.”

This broad coalition of groups urges the public to contact their U.S. lawmakers to ask them to co-sponsor the Farm System Reform Act and address these priorities in the 2023 Farm Bill to help create a more humane and sustainable food and agriculture system.


About Food & Water Watch
Food & Water Watch mobilizes people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water and climate problems of our time. We work to protect people’s health, communities and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests. Learn more at https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/.