History of Industrial Farming To feed the rising population, industrial farmers sought out ways to produce the highest output of food at the lowest cost. Industrial farmers took advantage of the technological and scientific advancements that occurred after the Industrial Revolution and WWII. – Mass Production – Synthetic Fertilizers (nitrogen, phosphorus) – Advancements in animal medicines – Synthetic Chemicals: pesticides, herbicides and insecticides.
Currently…. Large agribusinesses make up our industrial farming system. Four Companies currently control 90% of all beef processing plants (2) Four companies control 70% of the pork processing plants Four companies control 60% of poultry processing plants (2) – Industrial farming accounts for 99% of all farmed animals raised and slaughtered in the US. (1) Industrial farms practice vertical integration and contract growing to externalize cost.
Vertical Integration Large agribusinesses are now using a vertical integration business model. – The corporation that owns the factory farm also owns the feed company, slaughterhouse, and facilities for final stages of production, such as packaging and distribution. – They aim control every part of the production and distribution process.
Contract Growing Individual family farms enter into contracts with agribusinesses. – The contracts give the agribusiness control over how the farm operates. 90 percent of all poultry in the U.S. is now raised by growers who dont own the birds or negotiate basic terms like price per pound (1) Small farms are forced to enter into these contracts because they cannot keep up with industrial farms. Industrial farms sometimes claim their products are from family farms because of this.
Externalized Cost By practicing vertical integration and contract farming agribusinesses are able to externalize costs. – The consumer doesnt have to pay a high price for eat at the supermarket because the cost is shared with: – small family farms that are taken advantage of – communities that are forced to deal with pollution from farms » Leads to health and environmental problems Agribusinesses disregard any bad treatment of animals or pollution that they cause because it saves them money.
What makes up the Industrial Farming System? A factory farm is an industrial facility for raising large numbers of livestock in as little space as possible. Industrial farms also use certain techniques to mass produce crops. Mainly corn, soybeans, hay, wheat, cotton. Rice and grain (sorghum). The goal the industrial farming system is to produce the highest output of food at the lowest cost.
Crop Growing Industrial Farms Their use of synthetic pesticides herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers contributes to ground & air pollution. The lack of biodiversity makes large fields of crops vulnerable and hurts the ecosystem Crops are genetically modified. Crops are grown for animal feed.
Livestock Factory Farms Inhumanely treat animals. Are a large source of pollution. – Results in environmental and health effects. Are a burden on local ecosystems. – pollution, excessive water use, health effects Unsafe and unfair working conditions.
Animal Welfare In a factory where the goals are to: lower costs increase production rates & raise profits The welfare of the animals is never taken into consideration.
Animals are forced to live in very small areas. Often mutilated to prevent damage during fights. Live in extremely unsanitary enclosures. disease prone routine antibiotic use
Antibiotic Resistance Overcrowding of livestock confinements. Widespread diseases – Unsanitary living space & open wounds Constant dosages of antibiotics Antibiotic resistant bacteria public health crisis
Industrial Farm Pollution Sources of pollution: – Synthetic Chemicals Pesticides, herbicides & insecticides. – Heavy metal pollution Heavy metals within animal feed leek into the land surrounding factory farms from manure pools – Manure
Manure – 1.5billion pounds of manure produced a year – Disposal pools often leak poisoning local water sources – As many as half of factory farms waste pools leak enough to contaminate nearby groundwater – To help empty the pools manure is sprayed directly into the air. – Decomposing manure releases: methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide and other chemicals. Industrial livestock production is responsible for 18% of the global warming effect, more than the entire transportation sector!!
Unsafe and Unfair Working Conditions Most workers are paid minimum wage and receive no benefits. Workers are exposed to multiple toxins in the air and antibiotic resistant bacteria. A U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study found that 60 percent of poultry companies surveyed were violating the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
Effects on Human Health Farm workers can easily get diseases from factory animals and pass them on. Do to unsanitary conditions in farms meat can often become contaminated. – U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 70% of all food borne illness in the nation can be traced to contaminated meat. Toxins released into the air and water from manure pits and synthetic chemicals can cause negative health effects in humans.
Industrial Farmings Effect on the Environment Pollution from farms ruins local water and air quality for both humans and local wildlife. Greenhouse gasses released from decomposing manure contribute to global climate change. The lack of biodiversity destroys local ecosystems. Industrial farms rely upon large quantities of water. (millions of gallons a day) – Lowered water tables. – The Ogallala aquifer, the largest in the nation, has been estimated to dry up in 50 years due to unsustainable industrial farming practices.
What can you do to help? Support Local Farms – By purchasing from local farmers you can help support them and not support big factory farms. Educate yourself and others Try to buy meat and produce that hasnt been raised in an industrial farm.