Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) is calling for an end to the uncontrolled expansion of factory farming, and ultimately the end of industrial animal agriculture, in the United States. In new statements made to the New York Times, Booker warns, “We are past a national emergency.”
The senator is among those to appear in a video from the New York Times Opinion section, titled “Meet the People Getting Paid to Kill Our Planet.” In the video, Booker and other climate leaders discuss the ways lobbying is allowing the U.S. agriculture industry to destroy the environment unchecked.
Sen. Booker says “Big Food” is the “most powerful lobby” of all due to its “allies and influences on both sides of the aisle.” The biggest environmental offenders in factory farming, he says, are “releasing extraordinary amounts of methane” and “ruining” our bodies of water while “offsetting all these collateral consequences to us and keeping all the profits for themselves.”
“I’m very frustrated that the incredible climate movement doesn’t talk enough about food,” says Booker. “You cannot solve the climate problem unless you fix the American and global food systems.” The New York Times reports that annual emissions from U.S. agriculture are about equal to emissions from 143 million cars, as the agricultural industry rakes in $116 billion in profit and is subject to “very little” environmental regulation.
The U.S. food system is so heavily dominated by industrial agriculture that nearly all farmed animals in the country–a whopping 99 percent– live on factory farms.
Industrial animal farming is a major driver of global warming, deforestation, and other environmental crises. Yet, not only is the U.S. government failing to take meaningful action to address the environmental harms of factory farming, it continues to funnel billions of taxpayer dollars into animal agriculture. Less than 1 percent of U.S. subsidies go towards vegetable farming.
This problem is global, as a September 2021 report from the United Nations revealed. The intergovernmental agency found that most farm subsidies granted by governments around the world incentivized products with high greenhouse gas emissions, supporting farming practices that are “harmful to nature and health.”
According to Booker, the imperative solution is an end to factory farming. In 2019, Booker introduced the Farm System Reform Act (reintroduced in 2021) in an effort to ban the largest factory farms by 2040, along with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. The legislation would also hold corporations accountable for pollution and other environmental damage, and provide buyouts to farmers transitioning from factory farming.
“There must be regulation. We need to take these big, multinational factory farms and stop them, put a moratorium on their growth and eventually phase them out,” says Booker.
Jennifer is a writer and editor based near Washington, DC. Her background is in communications in the animal protection movement. She is also a contributing writer with Sentient Media.