New USDA Data Show 60% Increase In Factory Farmed Dairy Cows In Oregon Over 20 Years

Analysis finds Oregon’s concentrated mega-dairies produce as much waste as more than two-thirds of the state’s human population

Published Feb 14, 2024

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Food System

Analysis finds Oregon’s concentrated mega-dairies produce as much waste as more than two-thirds of the state’s human population

Analysis finds Oregon’s concentrated mega-dairies produce as much waste as more than two-thirds of the state’s human population

A Food & Water Watch analysis of USDA’s 2022 Census of Agriculture data, released yesterday, shows that America’s industrial animal agriculture industry is raising more animals on factory farms than ever before, producing unprecedented amounts of waste. Oregon’s mega-dairy industry has seen tremendous growth in herd size over time, threatening family-scale operations and the environment, and spurring on a mounting grassroots campaign for a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms.

Key findings in Oregon include:

  • More confined animals, bigger farms: The number of cows living on Oregon’s mega-dairies increased 60 percent from 2002 to 2022, while the average mega-dairy size grew by 50 percent.
  • Fewer family-scale farms: As factory farms take over, the number of small dairies raising animals outside the factory farm system plummeted. In 2022, Oregon had fewer than half as many family-scale dairies compared to 2002 — a net loss of 620 dairies. It reported 126 fewer family-scale dairies over the past five years alone (2017 to 2022).
  • More waste: Together, Oregon’s mega-dairies produce 4 billion pounds of manure each year, equivalent to three million people, or over two thirds of Oregon’s human population.

Pollution from Oregon factory farms and the row crops grown to feed their confined animals are contributing to a worsening water pollution crisis in Northeast Oregon, where drinking water for thousands is contaminated with nitrates linked to cancers, birth defects, and developmental delays.

Food & Water Watch Oregon Organizer Aimee Travis issued the following statement:

“America today is truly a factory farming nation. Oregon’s massive mega-dairies are wreaking havoc on small farmers, rural communities, public health and the environment. As factory farming expands and pollution goes unchecked, thousands of people in Northeast Oregon are left with contaminated drinking water. State legislators must act quickly to safeguard Oregonians’ air, water, health, and independent farmers — it’s time for a factory farm moratorium now.”

Food & Water Watch research details how rapid dairy industry industrialization, underpinned by federal and state policy incentives and the failure to regulate pollution, comes at the direct expense of smaller family farms, public health, the environment and climate.

Time to face it —~it’s people or plastics.~We can’t have both.

Become a plastic pollution fighter this Earth~ Day and have your gift MATCHED $3-to-$1!

Press Contact: Phoebe Galt [email protected]

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