Lady Freethinker (LFT) has officially signed onto a letter urging Congress to not use COVID-19 relief funds for factory farm bailouts.

More than 50 organizations are supporting the letter, which cites industrial animal agriculture as “a major pollution source” and “a significant contributor to climate disruption.” It calls on the government to use the $23.5 billion agricultural allotment from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) for small and mid-sized farms that produce climate-compatible and plant-based foods.

“Polluting factory farms threaten our food security and degrade the environment,” said Stephanie Feldstein, director of the Center of Biological Diversity’s population and sustainability program. “Congress must not hand this destructive, unsustainable industry another blank check.”

The letter argues that workers at factory farms, slaughterhouses, and processing plants continue to be underpaid, left without sick leave, and receive inadequate personal protective equipment, despite meat and dairy industries receiving $28 billion in subsidies last year from the Trump administration. Instead of another infusion of capital, the letter urges Congress to direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to require personal protective equipment, paid sick leave, and other protections for front-line food industry workers.

Additionally, the letter discourages Congress from allowing industrial agriculture to use COVID-19 as an excuse for relaxing the Clean Water and Clean Air acts, as well as other environmental protection laws.

“COVID-19 is a global tragedy that underscores how interconnected human societies are with each other and with nature,” explained Mia MacDonald, executive director of the environmental think tank Brighter Green. “Congress should reject the environmentally damaging and broken agenda of agribusiness. Stimulus and bailout funds can support sustainable and equitable food systems, protect food workers and ensure healthy produce reaches those most in need now.”

LFT joins the Center for Biological Diversity and other organizations in pushing Congress to use coronavirus relief funds to the benefit of smaller, sustainable farms, rather than to provide yet another stimulus package to the cruel factory farming industry.