United States Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) has been appointed to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. A known vegan, Booker has inspired positive change in the plant-based movement throughout his career as the former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, and now a U.S. senator.
In addition to Booker, Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) was also appointed to the committee, marking the first time in history two African-Americans will serve simultaneously on the panel.
“Our food system is deeply broken. Family farmers are struggling and their farms are disappearing, while big agriculture conglomerates get bigger and enjoy greater profits. Meanwhile, healthy, fresh food is hard to find and even harder to afford in rural and urban communities alike. In the richest country on the planet, over 35 million Americans from every walk of life are food insecure,” said Senator Booker in a statement.
“Everyone eats, and with agriculture and food policy at the center of its work, the Senate Ag Committee touches everyone’s lives – from the Central Ward of Newark to the middle of the Corn Belt,” continued Booker.
“I can’t wait to get to work on this committee building diverse coalitions of stakeholders to begin addressing these urgent issues and making change for the people of this country, of New Jersey, and my neighborhood in Newark,” concluded Booker.
As Mayor of Newark, Booker witnessed first-hand how our broken food system harmed local residents, as large sections of Newark were essentially “food deserts,” where communities had no access to healthy foods. He was instrumental in helping to bring several supermarkets to the area that helped increase access for Newarkers to healthy foods. He also spearheaded the creation of community gardens and urban farms.
Throughout his time in the Senate, Senator Booker has been an advocate for agriculture and nutrition reform. Most recently, he introduced the Justice for Black Farmers Act to enact policies to end discrimination within the USDA, protect remaining Black farmers from losing their land, provide land grants to create a new generation of Black farmers, restore the land base that has been lost, and implement systemic reforms to help family farmers across the United States.
In 2018 and 2019, Booker introduced the Food and Agribusiness Merger Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act to put an indefinite halt on large agribusiness, food and beverage manufacturing, and grocery retail mergers and acquisitions. Booker also introduced the Farm System Reform Act which would, among other things, strengthen the Packers & Stockyards Act to crack down on the monopolistic practices of multi-national meatpackers and corporate integrators, place a moratorium on large industrial animal operations, sometimes referred to as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), and restore mandatory country-of-origin labeling requirements.
Booker is also the author of the Climate Stewardship Act which would support stewardship practices on more than 100 million acres of farmland by investing tens of billions of dollars through existing voluntary USDA conservation programs to empower family farmers and ranchers to be part of the solution to climate change.
In response to rising food insecurity and supply chain disruptions witnessed during the coronavirus pandemic and stemming from our hyper-consolidated food system, Booker introduced the Local Food Assistance and Resilient Markets (FARM) Act to expand food assistance to vulnerable Americans and increase support for the local and regional food systems that have proven most resilient during the COVID-19 crisis. Booker also introduced the Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 Act to protect worker, consumer, and animal safety by suspending all current and future USDA waivers and regulations that allow companies to increase production line speeds at meatpacking plants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, Booker introduced the Food and Nutrition Education in Schools Act with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) to allocate federal funding for projects that educate students while connecting them to healthy food practices, with a priority given to schools in neighborhoods with high rates of childhood diet-related illnesses and those in which 40% of students qualify for free or reduced-priced meals.
Booker and Lee also introduced Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) Improvement Act to reform the EQIP program, which provides farmers and ranchers with federal cost-share grants to implement environmentally-beneficial conservation practices on working agricultural lands, in order to better prioritize taxpayer dollars to support the most effective farm conservation practices.
WAN and Peace 4 Animals are grateful to Senator Booker for has advocacy and commitment to bringing more sustainable plant-based initiatives to the mainstream. We believe his new role in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry will strengthen his mission to better protect our planet, animals, and the health of Americans.
You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg