SAFE AND AFFORDABLE FOOD AT RISK IF RADICAL LEGISLATION BECOMES LAW
Booker Campaign Disguises Animal Rights Legislation
Notorious animal rights supporter, New Jersey Senator and presidential hopeful Cory Booker announced in mid-December that should he be elected president, he would work to enact legislation known as the Farm System Reform Act (FSRA). Booker’s campaign has worked hard to disguise FRSA as being desirable to farmers and ranchers, but his strong affiliations with animal rights groups make the underlying animal rights and extreme environmentalist agenda readily apparent.
Vegan With No Agriculture Experience
Booker has zero experience with any aspect of agriculture, having been born in Washington D.C. and raised in New Jersey, and attending Stanford, the University of Oxford, and Yale Law School. He is noted for his work in urban development issues in various offices he has held.
Booker widely promotes he is vegan and has close ties to notorious animal rights and environmentalist groups. In 2017, he was honored by HSUS at their Farm Animal Protection gala as their Legislator of the Year, for his contributions to animal rights by supporting “humane legislation” and helping advance “animal-friendly laws.” He also has been graded by the Humane Society Legislative Fund as a 100% on every “Humane Scorecard” since he joined the Senate in 2013.
Extremist Groups Support Booker
Entities listed as supporting Booker use deceptive names to hide their extremist agendas and mislead consumers. As we have shown many times in the past, these groups usually work together, are well funded, and have large networks. Their practices demonstrate how deeply the anti-agriculture movement has become embroiled in industry and policymaking on a global scale. Much is at stake on many levels, but the overall threat to a safe, plentiful, and affordable food supply is truly a great danger to worldwide society.
Groups listed as supporting Booker include Family Farm Action, Indiana Farmers Union, Pennsylvania Farmers Union, American Grassfed Association, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Women Food and Agriculture Network, Missouri's Food for America, Family Dairy Farms LLC, American Public Health Association, Food & Water Action, Center for Food Safety, Public Justice, Waterkeeper Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council and Mighty Earth. For more information on the groups, please see below.
CAFOs Wrongfully Under Attack
Booker’s FRSA legislation prominently features a ban of CAFOs (controlled animal feeding operations), commonly known as feedlots. The building of new CAFOs would be banned, and existing operations would be required to close by January 2040. The EPA’s definition of a large CAFO includes operations with at least 700 dairy cows, 2,500 hogs, 1,000 beef cattle or 125,000 broiler chickens.
Anti-agriculture activists intentionally mislead the public by painting a “small-family farms VS factory farms” picture. This is very misleading to the public for several reasons. In fact, the CAFOs they refer to as “factory farms” are essential for small-scale producers and the overall the meat and dairy production process. Booker attempts to appeal to “the little guy” by playing to irrational fears and targeting “corporate big ag.” He conveniently ignores:
• The fact that incorporation is a simply a business structure utilized by many producers, including small family operations.
• The fact that the majority of small producers rely upon CAFOs to complete the production cycle
Booker wrongly claims that the world doesn’t have enough land to sustain the level of worldwide meat consumption, and dodges the fact that CAFOs actually reduce the amount of land needed for production.
The majority of grazing land is unsuitable for growing crops, allowing cattle and sheep to sustainably transform raw forage material unusable by humans into meat and a multitude of byproducts. Without CAFOS, more grazing land would be needed.
CAFOs Streamline Production
Meat producers, unless they have a strictly grass-fed operation, send or sell their animals to a feedlot to “finish out.” For small scale producers, this allows their products to be marketable and competitive with large scale producers. Feedlots help to “even the playing field” by creating the consistent quality products demanded by the market, with the assurance that the animals are well-cared for and healthy before being processed. Feeding animals in a feedlot provides them with specialized, concentrated-nutrition diets designed to maximize health and production (weight gain for meat animals and milk production for dairy animals) in a relatively stress-free environment. This is a very important step in the process of providing the public with safe, affordable products.
Quality Animal Care is Essential in CAFOs
The claim is often made by animal rights activists that feedlot animals are mistreated or abused; however, nothing could be further from the truth. For example, the entire point of a feedlot for meat animals is to humanely, efficiently bring them to finish weight in order to be processed for human consumption. Animals that are distressed not only become sick more easily, but also fail to gain weight, thus defeating the entire purpose of a feedlot’s role in the food supply system. Keeping animals happy and healthy is an integral component of producing high-quality, healthy meat and dairy products.
Without feedlots, meat and dairy products would become incredibly expensive and less marketable, therefore working to force all sizes of producers out of business. When one considers Booker’s history, actions, and associations, it becomes obvious that this is the true long-term goal, regardless of the charade of his FRSA legislation.
Booker’s Legislation is a “Trojan Horse”
Other goals of Booker’s FRSA include a number of things that seemingly align with the beliefs of many ranchers and farmers. This is very much a “Trojan horse,” as Booker attempts to garner support from portions of the agriculture industry, all while working to undercut and decimate one of the essential supporting pillars of large-scale food production that is relied upon by both producers and consumers. Those goals include:
• Hold companies responsible for pollution and “harm” caused by CAFOs
• Provide a voluntary buyout for farmers who want to transition out of a CAFO
• Prohibit the use of tournament or ranking systems for paying contract growers
• Create market transparency and protect farmers and ranchers from predatory purchasing practices
• Strengthen the Packers & Stockyards Act to protect family farmers and ranchers:
• Protect livestock and poultry farmers from retaliation if they raise concerns about their contract or join in grower associations
• Prohibit meatpacker ownership of livestock more than seven days prior to slaughter
• Prohibit meatpackers from buying livestock for slaughter using unfair forward contracts
• Require meatpackers to acquire at least 50% of their livestock through spot market sales
• Restore mandatory country-of-origin labeling requirements for beef and pork and expand to dairy products
• Prohibit USDA from labeling foreign imported meat products as “Product of USA.”
In conclusion, we at Protect The Harvest strongly emphasize the importance of looking beyond the surface of proposed legislation to learn about the real ideology and associations behind it. The old saying holds true that “all that glitters is not gold.” The deep and dangerous interconnectivity of the animal rights and environmental extremist movements are a great of a threat this is to our nation’s access to safe, affordable, humanely produced food.
MORE INFORMATION ON THE GROUPS SUPPORTING BOOKER:
Family Farm Action describes itself as the “muscle” for the family farmer. Joe Maxwell, executive director for the Organization for Competitive Markets, (a group with strong ties to HSUS), is also the president and founder of Family Farm Action. Their website seems benign, until you click “Donate.” When you donate to Family Farm Action, you are actually donating to Family Farm Action as a sub-campaign of ActBlue. ActBlue is the democratic party fundraising nonprofit, a Carey committee who operates like a Democratic Super Pac and is instrumental to the success of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), who in the first half of 2019 raised $420 million dollars for democratic campaigns and progressive movements.
Indiana Farmer’s Union is involved with many NGO’s and SRAP. On their Facebook event page “Don’t miss this free screening of Right to Harm, a new film about the devastating impacts on the environment and public health by Confined Animal Feeding Operations.” The group has been supported by:
--Hoosier Environmental Council
--Winding Waters Group of the Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter
--Socially Responsible Agriculture Project
--Matt Weschler and Annie Speicher
--Local concerned citizens
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy was founded in 1986 with funds from the Unitarian Universalist Church’s Veatch Foundation (which was run by a former Greenpeace director at that time). Its apparent mission is to criticize industrial agriculture in general and food technology in particular. In addition to constantly ranting against genetically improved foods, IATP works behind the scenes in international bodies like the World Trade Organization to increase regulatory and trade burdens for countries that don’t practice enough “sustainable” agriculture. In their organization, the definition of “sustainable” agriculture refers to moving away from newer technologies and towards more “natural” ways of producing food.
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement was originally founded in 1975 to assist low-income Iowans with home ownership and personal money management, and to defend against predatory loan practices and unscrupulous car dealers. Since that time, the group’s priorities have shifted away from defending the urban poor to more politically lucrative attacks against what its activists’ term “factory farms.”
The group is made up of roughly 2000 Iowans, but they are extremely vocal and push for sweeping regulations on Iowa’s 90,000 farms, except those owned by ICCI members. The “Family Farm vs Factory Farm” labels are problematic because ICCI writes those definitions itself to suit its agenda. ICCI Executive Director Hugh Espey admitted he has never set foot in a large-scale livestock confinement facility. Some of ICCI’s membership are large corporations with no ties to Iowa, such as Ford, General Motors and Standard Oil. (Ford Foundation, General Motors’ Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and Standard Oil’s Belvedere Fund, a subsidiary of the Rockefeller Family Fund, all are major contributors). ICCI’s 2002 convention also had Michael Appleby, then vice president of HSUS speak. ICCI is also tied to the Waterkeeper Alliance.
Waterkeeper Alliance is led by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and focuses on enforcing environmental laws and preventing pollution, often with aggressive campaigns that have included lawsuits against small farmers. The alliance calls itself the biggest and quickest-growing nonprofit whose primary focus is clean water. Critics say the alliance is a thinly veiled cover for trial lawyers seeking big money payouts from those they accuse of causing environmental damage. Waterkeeper is dedicated to suing pork farmers into the ground in the hopes of scoring a tobacco-style legal settlement. Waterkeeper Alliance supposedly is a coalition of more than 160 watch programs for America’s rivers, bays and shorelines. It is also Kennedy’s platform to maintain his public profile. He uses Waterkeepers to spread baseless conspiracy theories about children getting autism from vaccines, to obtain taxpayer-guaranteed loans for a solar energy company his investment fund is involved with, and to oppose wind energy projects to close to his Kennedy family compound. Waterkeeper Alliance doesn’t want to rid our tables of animal-based food, but only food coming from “large-scale operations” (deep pockets) and the family farmers that rely on them for income security through contracted production.
Missouri Food for America opposed Missouri’s Measure 1 (Right to Farm) in 2014. They gave $400,000 to the opposition, and the bulk of those funds came from HSUS according to the group Food Democracy Now. Previously MFA raised $46,000, but coupled with HSUS gave them a check for $375,000 to oppose the amendment.
Food & Water Action, according to Activistfacts.com, fabricates facts about the impact of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of natural gas to scare local communities and drum up support for its quest to ban the practice in the US. Using donations from wealthy foundations, they fund a number of local anti-fracking groups to make it appear as though natural gas exploration has generated a grassroots backlash. In addition, they have trumped up fears about the dangers of GMO’s-- fears that lack backing from any scientific or medical organization. For example, they have fought against “golden rice,” which was developed to combat Vitamin A deficiencies in developing countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that providing Vitamin A-deficient children with vitamin A-rich foods could prevent up to 2.7 million children under the age of five from dying prematurely.
Center for Food Safety is a non-profit organization whose stated mission is to “protect human health and the environment, focusing on the use of harmful food production technologies, and by promoting organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture.” Its primary tactical toolbox consists of litigation, regulatory rule-making petitions, and legal support for “sustainable” agriculture advocates. They have filed dozens of lawsuits targeting various U.S. government agencies. They promote organic-only agriculture and oppose GMOs, food irradiation, aquaculture and animal cloning. They are one of the earliest adopters of the later debunked theory that mad cow disease was exclusively the result of non-organic livestock agriculture.
Public Justice was originally founded as Trial Lawyers for Public Justice. The Public Justice Foundation is a nonprofit corporation created by trial lawyers to defend class-action lawsuits. The overall agenda appears to support the ability of trial lawyers to sue and make bank. In 2011, this trial lawyer group decided to set its sights on farmers. They launched their “Public Justice Food Project,” which uses the court system to attack American agriculture from numerous angles, ranging from farm privacy to beef checkoffs. Their staff includes Jessica Culpepper, previously a staff attorney for HSUS; Senior Food Project attorney Brent Newell and associate attorney Kellan Smith have strong ties to the Center for Biological Diversity. CBD is known for being anti -agriculture and has an extremist environmental agenda. One of its co-founders bragged that “we could bring industrial civilization to its knees” if CBD could implement its policies. Public Justice Food Project has also set its sights on “Right to Farm” laws, working to overturn farmer privacy and anti-employment fraud laws. These state laws make it illegal for people to seek employment using fake identities and employment histories in order to perform undercover investigations.
National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is one of the largest and most well-funded environmental activist organizations in the US. They conduct knee-jerk advocacy and create scare campaigns on a wide array of environmental issues including ending affordable energy by pushing a “guilty until proven innocent” chemical policy that goes against science and opposes resource development. The NRDC is one of the best-funded environmental activist organizations in existence, with net assets of over $182 million. Ironically, the organization has economically benefited from the very fossil fuels it wants to eliminate. NRDC also receives considerable funding from more traditional liberal foundations. The George Soros-backed Open Society Institute and Foundation to Support Open Society gave NRDC over $2.2 million since 2008. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, one of the largest left-environmentalist foundations in the country, has provided NRDC with over $4.7 million over that same period.
Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz is the former media director for Greenpeace, managing director of Climate Advisor, Forest Heroes, Managing Director of Waxman Strategies in charge of Environmental Practices, among others. He’s also worked extensively in politics and is the author of “Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party.” His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Nation, Politico, The American Prospect. He is a graduate of the Green Corps environmental organizing fellowship, has held senior positions in the national environmental movement and is a veteran of many election campaigns and has been described as “a brilliant emerging star in the progressive movement.”
Mighty Earth has waged war in other countries, especially in eastern Indonesia where they actively campaigned against palm oil products. The Indonesian government was asked to ban activities of Mighty Earth in Indonesia. Due to this campaign, Indonesia lost an opportunity to increase economic growth nationwide, particularly in Papua. “The campaign by the foreign NGO has been unsettling. Many organizations are not registered at the ministries, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia. However, they are actively operating and harming Indonesia” according to People's Representative Council of the Republic of Indonesia member, Firman Soebagyo.
In another instance, Mighty Earth filed a complaint to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), claiming that the Korean/Indonesian investment group, Korindo, should be dissociated from FSC.
“On November 1, 2017, FSC initiated an investigation on alleged violations of the Policy for the Association of Organizations with FSC. FSC investigated all of ME claims, rejected its key allegations as unfounded, including the one that Korindo used fires. FSC's investigation concluded that Korindo did not set fires, and that Korindo was not involved in illegal activities by use of fire. This was the FSC conclusion that was released to the public on July 23, 2019.
Mighty Earth has been spinning the FSC decision by avoiding the facts and distorting the cause and outcome of the investigation itself for those who are not familiar with the FSC mechanism and process.
On July 15, 2019, the FSC Board of Directors announced that the Korindo Group is not to be dissociated from FSC, and is to remain associated with FSC. (From benzinga.com/pressreleases)