In 2014, Craig Watts, a North Carolina farmer employed by Perdue – the third-largest chicken producer in America – shined light on the reality behind factory farming. He has been on the job since 1992 and finally he’s had enough. He invited Compassion in World Farming, a welfare group, to his barns and allowed them to take footage of its conditions.
When asked what drove him to speak out, Watts told Salon that Perdue isn’t what it’s pretending to be. Among the infractions committed by his employer include not caring for the birds and not treating their farmers right.
In his book The Meat Racket, Christopher Leonard explores how major poultry companies keep their farmers in so much debt that they couldn’t walk away or even speak out. In addition, the proposed food-system reform by the USDA in 2001 failed to be approved. That would have given the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration the authority to expose how Perdue and similar companies treated farmers and their birds.
Even more shocking, the number of factory farms in the US have been increasing over the past decade and a half. In other words, these farms have been processing more animals than ever. Also, the more animals, the more waste they create. Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Watch said in a statement that “As factory farms grow in size and number, so too do the problems they create.” She lists “increased water and air pollution; fewer markets for independent, pasture-based farmers; public-health burdens like antibiotic-resistant bacteria; and large-scale food safety risks for consumers.”
The organization also released an advocacy campaign stating that “Every day, America’s factory farms produce enough crap to fill the entire Empire State building.”
Despite the opposition to the bad practices of factory farming, the practice is still prevalent today. While the sole purpose of businesses like these is to produce food, is it really worth mistreating animals for the sake of putting something on the table?m On that note, here’s a look at the pros and cons of factory farming.
List of Pros of Factory Farming
1. It is inexpensive
Through factory farming, the cost of food is dramatically reduced. Why is that the case? Well, in factory farms, food is produced and processed at rapid rates and using the most efficient processes available. Since animals from places like these are priced cheaper, there is a lot of demand for it.
2. It is very lucrative
The proper care of animals takes a whole lot of time and expenses. Can you imagine taking care of thousands of chickens and hundreds of cows each and every day? Most of those who work at factory farms will find that activity tedious when there is so much more to do.
Of course, the more animals, the merrier the pockets of organizations. With thousands and hundreds of animals at one farm, how may eggs, chicken and beef can be put out for sale? Quite a number definitely.
That is why, in most intensive animal farming establishments, chickens, cows and other animals raised for meat don’t get the treatment they deserve.
Also, new data shows an alarming trend over the increase of factory farms over the years. The report by the Food & Water Watch used data from the USDA from 1997, 2002, 2007 and 2012. Here’s the shocking numbers:
- number of dairy cows in factory farms doubled, and the average-sized dairy factory farm increased by half, between 1997 and 2012.
- number of hogs on factory farms increased by more than one third, and the average farm size ballooned nearly 70 percent from 1997 to 2012.
- the number of broiler chickens on factory farms increased nearly 80 percent from 1997 to 2012, to more than one billion.
- the number of egg-laying hens on factory farms rose to nearly one quarter from 1997 to 2012, to 269 million.
3. It offers job opportunities
In order to operate factory farms, a lot of hands are needed – it’s quite the huge operation in fact. As a result, these farms are always on the lookout for a large number of employees to ensure business is running each and every day.
The opportunities offered to workers are also varied. Plus, it looks like an attractive option for other places around the world that need job opportunities.
List of Cons of Factory Farming
1. It doesn’t treat animals well
Animals who live in factory farms lead sad lives. Can you imagine being cooped up in extremely constricting quarters with hundreds of other chickens? When it comes to pigs, diseases are spread pretty easily because of the close proximity between animals in one pen and between pens as well.
Plus, animals raised in factory farms are fed with additives that make them bigger so that they can be sold at higher prices. Living a cooped up life with only slaughter as a way out is not the ideal life of factory farm animals. Advocates have always called for animals to roam wide open spaces so they can grow happy and healthy before they are used for food production. Others have also advocated to stay clear of meat and prefer vegetables instead.
2. It raises health concerns
Keeping animals too close to each other drives the spread of disease. While businesses may not be too concerned about the loss of lives on their farm, they should be concerned about those who consume their products. Some animals can transmit diseases to humans and tracing the origin can prove so much harder – and more problematic.
3. It hurts the farming community
Factory farms can produce a lot in less time. Family run operations that rely on free range animals are suffering because of that as they find it hard to compete. With more production, a lot of businesses and large-scale companies will obviously go for the operation that can produce cheap and quick.
4. It hurts the environment
In 2012 alone, livestock from factory farms produced 369 million tons of manure – that is 13 times the sewage produced by humans in the US. This is one of the reasons the Food & Water Watch launched a Factory Farms Are A #LoadOfCrap campaign raising awareness on the negative effects of factory farming.