Factory Farming

A video highlighting the negative impacts of factory farming. And here is the script:


This is a cow.

These are two cows.

It would take 1000 of these cows to reach the minimum number needed for a ‘Large CAFO’ or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation’ Also known as a factory farm.

There are approximately 19 000 Large CAFO’s in the United States, each with an average of 3810 cows in each.

I’m getting there…

Factory farms present a real danger to our environment and health all while slowly destroying the traditional family farm.

They generate millions of tonnes of manure every year and have extremely negative effects on the environment. Which can be broken up into three sections: Water Quality, Air Quality, Animal Welfare.

According to the EPA, States which have high concentrations of CAFOs have an average of 20-30 water quality problems per year as a result of poor waste management. Including a spill in 1995 which dumped 25.8 million gallons of waste into the nearby watershed and killed 10 million fish.

The decomposition of cow manure releases methane, a gas 20 times better than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere, and because of this 18% of all green house gases are produced by livestock operations.

The treatment of animals is concerning for two main reasons, one is quite simply that some people feel that animals shouldn’t be treated like things. They feel that keeping thousands of animals in tight confined spaces with almost no where to move and sometimes quite literally standing in their own filth from birth to slaughter house is unethical and that animals, even ones we plan on eating, deserve some sort of minimum quality of life that factory farms violate.

Others who take the view that animals don’t think, so it doesn’t matter what we do, are also concerned with Factory Farms. And that is due to the danger to human health.

To prevent disease caused by keeping animals in such close proximity, factory farms have taken to injecting all livestock with antibiotics in order to avoid the cost of paying for more space. However, the World Health Organization (the WHO?) warns that this practice should be reconsidered as it greatly increases the chance of anti-biotic resistant strains of bacteria to emerge. These strains pose some of the greatest health concerns that exist in the western world today.

So there you have it, a quick low down on CAFOs. Along with their Environmental and Health Impacts…

Factory Farming is the furthest thing away from traditional farming one can get. In fact, the rise of corporate factory farming is exactly what is killing traditional farmers.

Since Factory Farming began in the 1930’s the number of farms in the United States has dropped from 7 million to 2 million. And between 1969 and 2002 the number of family farms dropped by 39%. Many farmers now find it difficult to make a good income due to Factory Farms driving down the prices of animal products.

That is an extremely difficult question to answer and it will require taking a deeper look at how we see food production and what we really value as a society. A question we will look into in the future. But one thing that we cannot allow is CAFOs to go on without some safety nets and regulations because although they may seem harmless, they pose a serious threat to humanity and the world we live on.