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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fact Sheet: Factory Farms

Factory Farms

The Worst of Industrial Agriculture

Factory farms, megafarms or Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)(i) claim to be the future of American farming. Higher production levels, lower retail costs, and greater efficiency are all boasts of industrial agriculture. Certainly, factory farms are capable of producing large quantities of cheap food. But cheap food at what cost? The real costs of factory farms and cheap food far outweigh the benefits.

Factory Farms: Ruining the Legacy of Family Farm Food Systems

Every new factory farm forces 10 family farmers out of business (ii). With every small family farmer that has to leave the farm, communities lose access to fresh, healthy food and local economies are weakened.

Factory Farms: Abusing Animals and Polluting the Environment

  • Factory farms crowd tens of thousands of farm animals under one roof which denies them many of their most basic behavioral and physical needs, creates stress and exposes the animals to many serious illnesses. (iii)
  • In 1995, 25 million gallons of raw animal waste spilled from an eight-acre industrial lagoon in North Carolina, killing 10 million fish and closing 364,000 acres of coastal wetlands to shellfishing. (iv)
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that manure runoff from factory farm lagoons is a significant factor in the growing problem of ground and surface water pollution. (v)
  • EPA and state regulations for waste management are easily circumvented and woefully inadequate. Many factory farms operate unmonitored and unchallenged.

Factory Farms: Threatening Our Health

  • Inside factory farms, the overcrowded living conditions in feedlots and factory barns promote the spread of diseases, such as salmonella. (vi)
  • To fight disease outbreaks and promote unnaturally rapid growth, factory farmed animals are routinely fed antibiotics; over 70 percent of all antibiotics in the United States are fed to healthy farm animals.(vii)
  • This indiscriminate use of drugs has directly contributed to the evolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria which the American Medical Association considers an impending public health crisis. (viii)
  • Recent studies have shown that people living near hog factories suffer from headaches, runny noses, sore throats, excessive coughing, diarrhea, and burning eyes - symptoms brought on by noxious gasses and water pollution from manure lagoons. (ix)
  • In more extreme cases, people living near factory farms have developed neurological diseases and women have suffered from miscarriages as a result of water and air contamination. Employees working inside factory farms have died from exposure to manure lagoons. (x)

Family Farmers Fighting Back

In 1994, Farm Aid helped to kick-off the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment, a national effort to stop factory farms and those commodity groups that work against the interests of family farmers. Farm Aid knows that we all depend on farmers for high quality food, a strong local economy, and a healthy environment.

By demanding fresh, healthy food Farm Aid and its supporters can send out a clear message:family farms, not factory farms, should be the future of American agriculture. Learn how to help family farmers and make sure you will always have a choice for fresh, family-farmed food.

Source: Farm Aid

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