Agriculture and factory farming
Sustainable and regenerative agriculture will help meet present food needs, without compromising future ecological viability. This entails introducing organic and renewable agricultural practices, while phasing out petrochemical ones. I also support increasing production for local markets, to enhance public access to healthy food, expanding farmers’ markets and urban rooftop gardens, through subsidies and incentives. Supporting farmers to develop ecologically regenerative farming systems that sharply reduce emissions; sequester carbon; and heal our region’s soils, forests, and prairie lands can both broaden the access to healthy food and help restore climate imbalances.
There are countless horror stories from factory farming. Animals are mutilated to make their confinement more convenient, packed together in CAFOs, “concentrated animal feeding operations” which dominate 99% of the U.S. meat production.
Factory farms threaten not only animal rights, but our own. They prioritize corporate profits over health, safety, and especially the environment, since they require enormous amounts of land, (often GMO) animal feed, fuel, and water. It inundates our food supply with antibiotics, hormones and other toxins. Finally, factory farming is one of the most significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and ecological destruction, causing significant water, land and air pollution. We cannot address the climate crisis without addressing this industry.
Finally, factory farming comes at a steep price for local communities, which can’t compete with their economy of scale. Small family farms are put out of business. During the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen how factory farming meat has served as a locus for epidemiological spread of disease among humans, due to the lack of enforcement of labor standards in meat processing plants. Scientists predict that the concentration of animals in these spaces could be the site of the origin of the next pandemic, CAFO acting as a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria.
For all these reasons, I support phasing out factory farms via the following plan:
- Ambitious and unprecedented health, environmental and ethical regulations
- A sales tax on all meats and produce from large corporate and farms, and tax breaks for regenerative and organic local products.
- Increasing standards over time to eventually fully transition to a regenerative and sustainable food system
Ending industrial agriculture subsidies
I propose completely ending subsidies for corporate industrial agriculture and reinvesting in regenerative family farms. We can speed the elimination of factory farming by taxing and regulating it, while subsidizing and promoting local organic farming.
Our campaign supports federal bills to ban toxic industrial farm chemicals, prevent food system monopolies, and protect farm workers through labor rights and livable wages.
Protect and fund effective meat inspection
Public health is more important than corporate agriculture’s maximized profits. No one can reasonably deny the case for publicly funded food inspections. Meat and poultry plants should always be inspected by public agents, not corporate ones—highly trained and in sufficient numbers, so we can trust the results.
Regulate food and agriculture company mergers
I strongly favor rigorous antitrust enforcement. Monopolies hurt consumers in many ways other than high prices, and nowhere is that harm more apparent than in the food industry.
Mergers and acquisitions have crowded out opportunities for small agriculture and food producers. Meanwhile, this concentration of power risks creating not only public health problems through methane and water pollution, but also catastrophic threats to the food supply, by encouraging monoculture crops that can be wiped out by a single pathogen.
- Vox. The next pandemic could come from factory farms
- Time. 'They're Trying to Wipe Us Off the Map.' Small American Farmers Are Nearing Extinction
- The Lancet. Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems (Free account required)
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Human Food Inspection Contract Program
- Food and Water Watch. USDA Is Removing Safeguards On Food While Everyone Else Is Fighting A Pandemic
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Federal Meat Inspection Act
- U.S. House. H.R.2933 - Food and Agribusiness Merger Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act of 2019
- McDonald BA, Stukenbrock EH. Rapid emergence of pathogens in agro-ecosystems: global threats to agricultural sustainability and food security. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2016;371(1709):20160026. doi:10.1098/rstb.2016.0026