Factory farms have pushed out small and medium family-sized independent farms where raising food animals was far more humane, environmentally friendly, and healthier.
Factory farms are responsible for enormous amounts of waste, air and water pollution, worker exploitation, animal cruelty, unhealthy antibiotic uses. They are also harmful to rural communities.
According to Farm Sanctuary, factory farms typically store animal waste in huge, open-air lagoons, often as big as several football fields, which are prone to leaks and spills. When lagoons reach capacity, farmers will often opt to apply manure to surrounding areas rather than pay to have the waste transported off-site.
With the number of livestock significantly increased in the past decades, the amount of animal feces and urine generates more than 40 times the waste generated in wastewater treatment plants. Unlike human waste, animal waste does not have to abide by the same regulations contributing to potentially toxic chemicals, drugs, and bacteria in untreated animal wastes contaminating our soil, rivers, groundwater, and drinking water. This same waste also produces the potent greenhouse gas, methane, that is released into the air and is a major contributor to air pollution.
As said in an article by One Green Planet, slaughterhouse workers are all at-will employees, meaning they can be fired at any time. As a result, very few workplace hazards are reported to supervisors for fear they will lose their jobs or be replaced by somebody else willing to do the grueling and dangerous work. Factory farms depend on these types of employees because they are thankful for the work and, as a result, unlikely to unionize, will endure horrible working conditions, long hours (sometimes 10-hour days or more), and be satisfied with very little pay. Chances of injury over time are high.
Many of us know already of the inhumane treatment animals endure at these factory farms. With little to no outside time, to being confined in tight spaces in overcrowded facilities, to being overly-pumped with hormones to increase their production, life for these creatures is horrendous.
Since the 1950’s antibiotics have been a primary way factory farms increase the rate of growth and production in animals. According to EcoWatch, more than 70 percent of the medically important antibiotics sold in the U.S. are sold for use in food animals. This is not because cows are particularly susceptible to strep throat; the majority of antibiotics used on animal farms are not used as a treatment for diagnosed diseases in animals. Rather, most animals raised for food are raised on factory farms or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). With these antibiotics being overused and misused, resistant bacteria start to spread and affect the food we then put in our mouths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated at least 2 million Americans contract an antibiotic-resistant infection every year and 23,000 will die from it.
These CAFOs also dramatically destroy and affect their rural community neighbors. Factory farms’ air and water pollution make the population in these communities sick and also have an impact on the food they are producing. SRAP (Socially Responsible Agricultural Project) states communities can’t even enjoy their own backyards or open their windows on summer nights because the stench from CAFOs miles away is overwhelming. Residents near CAFOs also report an increase in pest infestations, including rodents and swarms of flies. Family and friends often refuse to visit because the smell is so unbearable. Property values also plummet if there is a CAFO nearby.
Back in May of 2018, Food & Water Watch became the first national organization to demand a ban on factory farms. With continued encouragement and support, the fight and victory of banning factory farms is possible.
We can encourage our legislators to start the process of getting rid of this horrible, destructive food supply system.
Some other things we can do is:
- Choose to buy meat and dairy products from farms instead of factories.
- Look for products that are labeled ‘free-range’, ‘pasture-reared’ or ‘outdoor-reared’
- Avoid products labeled ‘farm fresh’, ‘country fresh’, or ‘natural’
- Campaign for local change
- Eliminate meat and dairy from your diet or try to eat less
- Educate your peers
If you have any other ideas, please share in the comments section below.
It is time we fight back and support animal welfare, our environment, and what we put on our dinner plates! Sign the petition now to send to Congress, encouraging them to consider legislation that will improve or eliminate factory farming