If most people are aware of the animal welfare, public health and environmental impacts of factory farms, why do we let them dominate our food system? Are we incapable of joining forces to demand a change or are we all (including vegans, vegetarians and conscientious omnivores) too busy debating each other to actually put an end to this abhorrent industry?
If we want to raise public awareness about animal welfare, public health and environmental issues, we can no longer ignore the disastrous impacts of factory farming. Campaigning for an end to this industry is not just an animal rights issue and it impacts us all (no matter what your views are about eating and using animals). In fact, our ideological and strategic differences are insignificant compared to the crisis we all face. Further, since factory farms raise 99.9 percent of chickens for meat, 97 percent of laying hens, 99 percent of turkeys, 95 percent of pigs, and 78 percent of cattle currently sold in the United States, how can an animal rights supporter that wants to end all animal farming not get behind this cause?
Here are 10 things you need to know about factory farming, provided by a range of experts from various movements, all in an attempt to increase public awareness and demand an end to the industry. Share it far and wide!
- “Since the popular image of farms is of old-time barnyards populated by happy pigs and chickens, most people don’t even know that factory farming exists. They’d be horrified if they knew how their food is produced, but the industry does an excellent job of keeping them from that reality.” — Jim Motavalli, contributor to the New York Times, Audubon Magazine, Mother Nature Network and NPR’s Car Talk, and author of the forthcoming book High Voltage.
- “Factory farms are not necessarily more economically efficient than smaller-scale independent family farms. Factory farm operators use their political influence and their ability to manipulate market prices to drive more efficient family farmers out of business. Food prices are no lower with factory farms than with independent family farms.” — John Ikerd, Ph.D., professor emeritus of Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri, Columbia.
- “The one thing most people don’t know about factory farming in Africa is that it even exists. The one thing most people don’t know about factory farming in the USA is how extremely cruel it is.” — International Fund for Africa President and Co-Founder Dr. Anteneh Roba.
- “Public health and animal welfare are inseparable. Forever, industry has tried to divide communities over factory farming, with false claims that industrial food production reduces the need to destroy our air, water and lands. The truth is that factory farming makes every public health problem worse. Shutting down factory farms is a common solution to some of our greatest animal and environmental abuses and we should work together to shut them down.” — Greenpeace Senior Legislative Representative Kyle Ash.
- “Most people don’t know how terribly animals are treated on today’s factory farms, and that they are legally excluded from basic humane protections.” — Farm Sanctuary President and Co-Founder Gene Baur.
- “The biggest single problem with factory farming is that it shows no respect for the sanctity of life — either the life of farm animals or human life. Factory farming treats feedlots as biological assembly lines, where the animals are simply machines that produce meat, milk, or eggs for nameless, faceless consumers, with no respect for the people who work in them or live in the communities where they operate. This lack of respect for life undermines the ethical and moral fabric of society.” John Ikerd, Ph.D., professor emeritus of Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri, Columbia.
- “It causes environmental disaster.” — International Fund for Africa President and Co-Founder Dr. Anteneh Roba.
- “From an environmental point of view, the worst thing about intensive animal agriculture is it’s huge inefficiency. It takes five pounds of grain to produce a pound of meat, and a 10-acre farm that could feed 60 growing soybeans would support only two people raising cattle. Reducing American meat consumption by just 10 percent would free up enough grain to feed 60 million people.” — Jim Motavalli, contributor to the New York Times, Audubon Magazine, Mother Nature Network and NPR’s Car Talk, and author of the forthcoming book High Voltage.
- “The unnecessary torture and abuse of other animals is one of the worst human atrocities of our time. Humanity’s self-aggrandizing misconception that humans rule the world with no moral responsibilities to those with whom we share this planet is reinforced by how we treat other animals, and this ironic view is facilitating destruction of the planet even for ourselves.” Greenpeace Senior Legislative Representative Kyle Ash.
- “When we overcrowd thousands of animals into cramped filthy football-field sized sheds to lie beak-to-beak, or snout-to-snout atop their own waste it can present a breeding ground for disease, a perfect storm environment for the emergence of new strains of influenza and other animal-to-human diseases. These so-called factory farms are a public health menace.” — Michael Greger, M.D.
As One Green Planet Co-founder, Nil Zacharias put it in his article on the Huffington Post “It’s time we came together to build a movement that is focused on bringing about real change; it’s time to focus on the real issues and the best ideas that can solve them, irrespective of ideological differences; it’s time we stop undermining our health, the lives of animals and the future of our planet; it’s time to end factory farming!”
Image Source: Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals