As avian flu rages on, over 175 groups and veterinarians form broad coalition to endorse Industrial Agriculture Accountability Act as Farm Bill priority

Animal welfare, public health, labor, farm, environmental, and faith-based organizations; farmers; small businesses; and veterinarians show support for landmark legislation to hold industrial agriculture responsible, safeguard taxpayer money, increase protections for animals, and reform the food system

WASHINGTON (March 28, 2023) Today over 175 organizations and veterinarians sent a letter to the House and Senate agricultural committee chairs and ranking members endorsing the Industrial Agriculture Accountability Act (IAA) (H.R. 805 / S. 272), introduced by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Grace Meng (D-NY).

Mercy For Animals and the ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) led the coalition letter, which was signed by a diverse group of organizations, including Farm Action, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Center for Food Safety, Center for Biological Diversity, American Federation of Government Employees, Food Chain Workers Alliance, Health Care Without Harm, Church Women United in New York State, and Slow Food USA.

“Events like COVID-19 and Avian Flu have demonstrated that when our brittle food system breaks down, it is consumers and the American taxpayer who pay the price as multinational corporations beg for handouts from USDA while at the same time gouging consumers in the supermarket,” said Senator Booker. “We know more of these crises are coming as the climate changes, so it is time for these companies to take responsibility for the abuses, costs, and risks they create. I appreciate this broad coalition of supporters highlighting the importance of including the Industrial Agriculture Accountability Act in our next Farm Bill.” 

“Corporations running factory farms are making record profits by dodging their most basic responsibilities to treat their animals humanely, protect their workers and safeguard the environment,” said Representative McGovern. “And when disaster strikes, it’s taxpayers who are picking up the tab. I’m leading the charge to pass the Industrial Agriculture Accountability Act with Senator Cory Booker and Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Grace Meng because it’s time to say enough to excessive corporate greed and unnecessary cruelty. It’s time for Congress to envision a food system based on compassion for farm animals. It’s time for dignity for food and farm workers, and fairness for small farmers and the American public.”

“American taxpayers should not be left with the check when disaster strikes in the agriculture and farming industry,” said Congresswoman Meng. “The Industrial Agriculture Accountability Act helps remedy this problem by placing the liability for such disasters on big agribusiness. We cannot let lacking environmental safeguards, poor worker protections, and the inhumane treatment of animals continue to go unchecked. That is why I am honored to join my colleagues Reps. McGovern and Blumenauer and Senator Booker in leading this fight.”

In the past 13 months alone, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has spent more than $670 million in response to the ongoing avian flu outbreak, with more than 58 million chickens and turkeys impacted to date. Of that, more than $414 million was used to reimburse farmers for losses, the majority of which went to industrial producers. The USDA also spent an estimated $142 million to help carry out “depopulation” events where birds are killed en masse, often using extremely inhumane methods. In most cases, birds are killed by either filling barns with water-based foam, which causes the birds inside to die from occlusion of their airways and asphyxiation, or inducing hyperthermia and heat stroke through ventilation shutdown. These taxpayer-supported costs are expected to continue rising as more cruel depopulation is carried out across the country, despite record-breaking corporate profits and price increases for consumers. 

The IAA aims to better protect animals, workers, and the American people by holding the operators of high-risk concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) accountable for the damage they cause when their systems fail. The IAA proposes these and other critical reforms to build a more humane and resilient food system:
— Requiring industrial operators to register high-risk CAFOs, submit disaster preparedness plans, and cover the costs of preparing for and responding to disaster events. 
— Restricting the use of certain particularly inhumane methods of depopulation. 
— Creating new protections for farm and meatpacking workers, including prohibiting the use of incarcerated workers during depopulation events and ending dangerous line-speed increases and self-inspection programs. 
— Developing new humane transport standards for farmed animals. 
— Protecting billions of animals slaughtered each year by setting new requirements for less cruel slaughter, including bringing birds under the purview of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. 
— Providing federal funding for grants to small processing facilities to transition to less cruel slaughter methods and to expand USDA inspection and technical assistance for small processing facilities.

“Our current food system is in dire need of serious reform,” said Leah Garcés, CEO and president of Mercy For Animals. “Industrial animal agriculture continues to generate massive profits for corporations while the consequences are shouldered by taxpayers, workers, animals, and the environment. The warnings are clear, as the number of chickens infected with bird flu grows day by day. We’re one disaster away from a potential industry-wide collapse. I commend Senator Booker and the over 175 organizations and veterinarians that have taken a stand, endorsing tangible, commonsense solutions to problems the industrial agriculture system created.”

“Despite most Americans vehemently opposing farm animal cruelty, the public is now paying for millions of birds to be killed in unconscionably brutal ways because corporations refuse to prepare for disease outbreaks that result from our broken food system,” said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA president and CEO. “We urge Congress to pass a Farm Bill that ends this unacceptable subsidization of cruelty and provides critical protections for the billions of animals raised for food each year.”

“Veterinarians enthusiastically support the Industrial Agriculture Accountability Act and are calling on the American Veterinary Medical Association to support this bill as well,” said Dr. Crystal Heath, veterinarian and co-founder of Our Honor. “Corporate animal agriculture has failed to be good stewards of their animals and created the very conditions that necessitate macabre workarounds like the mass killing of animals via heat stroke, while taxpayers bail them out after inevitable disease outbreaks. Not only do the barbaric extermination methods deployed during the COVID-19 slaughterhouse bottleneck and more recently the avian influenza outbreak result in untold levels of animal suffering, the workers and veterinarians involved suffer psychological distress as well. This act is a much needed step in the right direction.” 

This broad coalition of groups urges the public to contact their U.S. lawmakers to ask them to co-sponsor the IAA and address these priorities in the 2023 Farm Bill to better protect animals and avoid further taxpayer-supported harms from factory farms.

Notes to Editors

For more information, please contact [email protected].

Mercy For Animals is a leading international nonprofit working to end industrial animal agriculture by constructing a just and sustainable food system. Active in Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico, and the United States, the organization has conducted more than 100 investigations of factory farms and slaughterhouses, influenced more than 500 corporate policies, and helped pass historic legislation to ban cages for farmed animals. Join us at

About the ASPCA® 

Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) was the first animal welfare organization to be established in North America and today serves as the nation’s leading voice for vulnerable and victimized animals. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation with more than two million supporters nationwide, the ASPCA is committed to preventing cruelty to dogs, cats, equines, and farm animals throughout the United States. The ASPCA assists animals in need through on-the-ground disaster and cruelty interventions, behavioral rehabilitation, animal placement, legal and legislative advocacy, and the advancement of the sheltering and veterinary community through research, training, and resources. For more information, visit, and follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.