What Is Factory Farming?
- Factory farms are businesses operating with 1,000 or more animals in confined areas.
- Factory farm operations allow for more animals on less land being fed unnatural diets instead of normal grazing.
- These farming practices, along with subsidized government loans, allow farmers to produce more animal-derived products (meat, milk, eggs, lard, etc.) in a shorter amount of time while increasing profitability.
- 99% of meat sold in the U.S. comes from factory farms
How Does Factory Farming Affect Us?
- Raising animals for meat consumption is the most inefficient use of resources such as land, water, and energy.
- The environment is negatively impacted in serious ways. Sometimes the damage is sudden and catastrophic, like a ruptured lagoon causing a massive fish kill. Other times it is cumulative as when manure is repeatedly applied, it runs off the land and accumulates as nutrient pollution in waterways causing toxic algae blooms.
- The effects are severe and threaten water quality across the country. The water problem in Lake Erie caused half a million residents in Toledo to lose their drinking water in 2014.
- The air is contaminated with pollution and methane and creates antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Illnesses in surrounding communities have all been documented.
- Confined animals with no sunlight, room to move or fresh air get sick. Sick animals require antibiotics that end up in the environment and the food chain. This contributes to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which makes it hard to treat human disease.
- More than 90% of doctors polled by Consumer Reports are troubled by the use of antibiotics on these animals.
- Animals are also given hormones to increase growth. These raised hormone levels end up in the food chain.
- Large companies are controlling food, so the local economy suffers and diversity is lost.
How Does Factory Farming Affect Animals?
- Pictures of happy animals and expansive pastures are simply a marketing ploy of the factory farms.
- Chickens, calves, pigs, and other animals are mutilated. For example, beaks are sliced off chicks to minimize pecking from stress and small cages.
- In the egg business, male chicks serve no purpose so they are ground alive on the day they are born.
- Concentrated breeding and additional hormones result in actual deformities to achieve large chicken breasts, tender cuts of steak, etc.
- Little to no concern is shown for pain or physiological suffering animals experience in horrific conditions, not to mention outright abuse such as kicking, punching and stabbing.
- Mother animals are separated from their babies immediately following birth.
- This information is not for shock value or to elicit feelings of guilt. These are facts that those who chose to buy and eat factory-farmed meat and dairy should be aware of.
- The agribusiness has spent tens of millions of dollars lobbying and making contributions to lawmakers. The new controversial Ag-gag laws attempt to silence whistle-blowers from coming forward with the animal abuse they witness. They are modeled from the ecological terrorism act and folks working to investigate the truth of factory farms face serious criminal charges.
What Can We Do?
- Factory farming does not have to be a sustained methodology for food production in the United States or across the world. Money controls the process. You have the choice of what you eat.
- Many consider vegan or even vegetarian too extreme, although it can be rather simple once it becomes routine.
- If switching your diet is too daunting, simply stop or reduce the amount of factory-farmed products you consume.
- Consider participating in Meatless Mondays, and then gradually increase that practice to multiple days a week.
- Research and find out where the products you consume come from.
- Buy organic, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, grass-fed meat. Eat organic eggs or find a friend raising chickens. These alternatives are not perfect, but better than mass produced factory farm products.
- Research this information. Read the articles listed. Share it on social media. Talk to family and friends.
- Call or write to lawmakers telling them to put restrictions on the methods used to raise animals.
- Farm Aid. (n.d.). Factory Farms. Retrieved August 12, 2014, from Farm Aid: http://www.farmaid.org/site/c.qlI5IhNVJsE/b.2723715/k.852A/Factory_Farms.htm
- Farm Sanctuary. (n.d.). Factory Farming. Retrieved August 12, 2014, from Farm Sanctuary: http://www.farmsanctuary.org/learn/factory-farming/
- Foer, J. S. (2010). Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown, and Company.
- The Better World Handbook. Retrieved August 23, 2014, http://www.betterworldhandbook.com/2nd/action6.html
- Suddath, C. (2010, April 23). The Problem with Factory Farms. Retrieved August 13, 2014, from TIME: http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1983981,00.html
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Retrieved November 15, 2014. http://www.fao.org/ag/magazine/0612sp1.htm
- org Retrieved November 18, 2014, http://www.farmsanctuary.org/learn/educational-literature/
- The Humane Society of the United States, Anti-Whistleblower Bills Hide Factory Farming Abuses from the Public. Retrieved November 18, 2014. http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/campaigns/factory_farming/fact-sheets/ag_gag.html
- Rolling Stone Magazine article, In The Belly of The Beast, December 10, 2013. http://www.rollingstone.com/feature/belly-beast-meat-factory-farms-animal-activists
- org Retrieved November 18, 2014. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/10/the-dangers-of-antibiotic-overuse/index.htm?hd&utm_campaign=2014-11-12%20HHIF&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua
- An Urgent Call to Action, State-EPA Nutrient Innovations Task Group. August 2009, http://water.epa.gov/scitech/swguidance/standards/criteria/nutrients/upload/2009_08_27_criteria_nutrient_nitgreport.pdf
- The New York Times. Story on August 4, 2014, Behind Toledo’s Water Crisis, a Long-Troubled Lake Erie by Michael Wines http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/05/us/lifting-ban-toledo-says-its-water-is-safe-to-drink-again.html?_r=0
- Natural Resources Defense Council. Retrieved September 19, 2014, from NRDC http://www.nrdc.org/water/pollution/nspills.asp
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