On Thursday, Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17) and Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02) introduced the Farmer Fairness Act to extend “environmental liability that Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) contract farmers are already subject to under the Clean Water Act” to vertically integrated meat and poultry companies.
Industrial meat and poultry companies in the US, known as integrators, are pigeon-holing farmers into one-sided, low-wage contracts that force them to shoulder all of the environmental liability for the company-owned animals in industrial livestock facilities. Essentially, the farmers end up with all of the liability while huge multinational corporations end up with all of the profits.
In response, Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter issued the following statement:
“The Farmer Fairness Act should be a no brainer because it does exactly what the name suggests: it levels the playing field for farmers when they deal with the powerful companies that utilize their services.
“Right now, massive meat and poultry companies are gaming the system when it comes to the environmental impact of meat production. Reps Khanna and Pocan are right to address this issue and ensure that contract growers are not burdened with the full responsibility of Big-Ag’s waste management.
“The current model is unjust and allows the largest companies to enjoy rich profits while contract growers face the responsibility for dealing with the huge amounts of waste created by the animals the companies own. It’s no surprise that the under-regulated and unaccountable agribusiness industry likes this model, but it needs to change. The Farmer Fairness Act would be a big first step towards knocking out the props that the factory farm system is based on.”