Michael A. Cox

Michael Cox

By Michael Cox

The sponsors of the Senate bill that carries the weighty title of “Farm System Reform Act of 2019” are Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey; Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts; and Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont. The people who wrote a good portion of the bill belong to an organization called the Family Farm Action Alliance.

The legislation was introduced way back in January of this year but has come to light as progressives, emboldened by the recent election, begin their push to change the face of agriculture. There is a sister bill flying along, mostly under the radar, in the U.S. House. They both are another run at doing away with life as we know it, especially the meat-eating part.

I could write a biblical-length tome on this matter, but today, let’s look at one item in this gargantuan document that exposes the minds of the people who really want you to think they want nothing more than to “help” the American farmer and rancher. But first you must stop being a racist. There we dropped the race card in the second paragraph. Done.

A story from the AGDaily came through one of my many news feeds over the past weekend. It was about the above-described legislation and, whether it meant to or not, exposed one part of the act, specifically the obliteration of all large livestock feeding operations by 2040. These corporate feed yards, pens, cages — what-have-you — are, according to the AGDaily, are Armageddon unleashed.

“For years, the agricultural industry has followed a trajectory that has led to the mass production of beef, pork, poultry and other foods. It is not uncommon to see an operation that contains hundreds to thousands of animals. We find it to be the norm that the average farm size increases while the number of farms decreased. Moreover, smaller farms struggle to compete with more expansive operations as the meatpacking industry monopolizes the agricultural sector,” the AGDaily story stated.

The alleged solution is the Farm Systems Reform Act. Now, Booker and his henchmen didn’t come up with this gem all by themselves. No. The act is primarily the work of the former Democratic Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell of Missouri and his organization, the Family Farm Action Alliance. The alliance states American agriculture is racist and big ag is making it worse. Quoting from its website:

“Deeply rooted in the history of American agriculture is racial injustice and systemic oppression, which stripped Indigenous peoples of their land and enslaved millions of Africans and their descendants. Accumulated inequality and discrimination have resulted in widening wealth gaps for people of color with their communities entangled in chronic poverty and food insecurity. Systemic discrimination places structural barriers for individuals and communities of color, blocking them from having an equal opportunity to participate in our economy and share in economic prosperity. We will not win economic liberty until social and racial injustices are eradicated from our society and our economy.”

Of course big ag, the folks who run the big farms, feed yards, processing houses, and so on, are the worst offenders, as they, according to Maxwell, continue to destroy the land, destroy the environment, steal business from others, oppress minorities and are solely responsible for the boarding up of every small town on fruited plains.

In the next breath, however, Maxwell said that his bill will do two things: one is to bust up the monopolies, and secondly, to give alternatives to farmers to get off the subsidy treadmill, as he calls it. Maxwell says that the $22 billion in farm subsidies could be eliminated when his law, now championed by vegan Booker, is passed. Of course, we don’t have many specifics on how family farms will thrive when corporate factory farms get shut down and the price of a Whopper goes past $20. But then the price of a burger means little to Booker and company, who would rather you eat meat made out of plants and chemicals the names of which you can’t pronounce.

Booker, if you recall, has lent his zeal to trying to get rid of “checkoffs,” specifically the beef checkoff. He worked with Utah’s senator of questionable ambition, Mike Lee, on that project for a long time. Booker makes no secret about his hatred for meat and apparently anyone who either raises it or consumes it.

The Farm System Reform Act would eliminate not only big factory farms but any feed yard with 1,000 cows at the trough. The act would close all Concentrated Animals Feeding Operations (CAFOs) that have a minimum of: 700 dairy cows; 1,000 beef cattle; 2,500 pigs weighing more than 55 pounds; 10,000 pigs weighing less than 55 pounds; 500 horses; 10,000 sheep or lambs; and 55,000 turkeys. A thousand beef cattle does not make a factory farm and could very well be a family operation husbanded by a multigenerational family.

People like Maxwell and Booker love to talk about breaking up the “monopolies” without telling us what about their targets is monopolistic. The classic definition is a business or agency that controls all facets and levels of the system. A true meat monopoly would be a company that would breed the cattle, produce their feed, raise them, slaughter them, package the meat, control the advertising and marketing, and set and collect the price from the consumer. Guess what, I just bought $200 worth of beef from a local supplier who did it all, including collecting the money. Is that rancher a monopoly? Of course not.

Maxwell and Booker, Warren and Sanders, say that they want to help the family farmer get off the government treadmill. But socialism has never helped the farmers get off any treadmill. In fact, that so-called treadmill is a result of a socialist approach to solving some farming issues.

At the same time, the apparently newly-elected president would go all in on his conservation stewardship program, which would pay farmers to continue and expand conservation. Of course, who gets to define conservation is a question worth examining. A fair number of people took Joe Biden’s statement to a campaign question as fact. Biden called the program a “land bank.”

So, let’s shut down Cargill, Tyson, and all the rest of the companies they call monopolies. The result? I know a lot of family ranches that will have no place to ship cattle. The supply chain will have kinks like you wouldn’t believe. Consumer prices will rise. Some more family ranches will go out of business.

As an alternative, people like Maxwell, Booker, et. al., ought to stop complaining about so-called monopolies. Then maybe the energy could be rechanneled to do some local co-ops that can handle the processing and marketing and compete with those big guys. We can get off the backs of the feedlot folks. We can solve their runoff issues. Apparently, however, the manure is useless. One of the proponents of the Farm System Reform Act states that manure is only viable to be hauled and used within a half mile of the source. Seriously, he said that. The Cox orchard was just over 6 miles from the Hughes farm, where we traded for cow dung. The manure we hauled from there worked just fine on our corn and potato field.

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