Contamination of Air and Water
In 2012, the largest factory farms produced almost 13 times more waste than the human population of the United States. The big meat and chicken companies take no responsibility for this waste—leaving it up to their contract farmers to figure out how to dispose of it. The only way to responsibly address the excess waste problem is to shift away from the factory farm model, rather than rely on false solutions such as manure to energy projects.
Treatment of Animals and Antibiotic Use
Keeping animals under crowded, stressful and unhealthy living conditions is not only inhumane, but also requires routine doses of antibiotics which contribute to the rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria that can make people sick.
Factory Farms Replace Independent Farms
The number of dairy, hog and beef cattle producers in the United States has declined sharply as the meatpacking, processing and dairy industries have driven farmers to increase in scale. As the number of factory farms in an area increases rural employment and income decline; this loss has devastated many rural areas.
Corporate Dominance of Farming
A tiny handful of companies dominate each livestock sector. They control the market prices farmers get for their livestock and dictate the terms of payments to farmers. This drives down earnings for farmers and has led to increasing corporate control in our food system.
Risk to Our Food Supply
Factory farms place our food supply at risk. It’s easy for disease to spread in the stressful, crowded conditions found in factory farms. Consumers eating the dairy, egg and meat products from factory farms can be exposed inadvertently to foodborne bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella if the large slaughterhouses and processing facilities that process factory farmed livestock and animal products cut corners on safety.
How can we protect our food supply, our environment, and independent farmers from factory farms?
The rise of factory farms resulted from policies made at all levels of government that prioritize large agribusiness over fair markets for farmers, animal welfare, public health or environmental protection. Reigning in this industry will require demanding change from our elected officials.
- The construction of new factory farms and the expansion of existing facilities should be banned, and we should transition to a more sustainable way of raising animals for food.
- The EPA should adopt and enforce appropriate environmental rules to prevent factory farm pollution, and state environmental authorities must step up their coordination and enforcement of regulations on factory farms.
- Congress should restore sensible farm programs that do not prioritize the production of artificially cheap livestock feed over fair prices to crop farmers, removing one of the major drivers of the factory farm system – cheap feed.
- The Food and Drug Administration should ban the use of antibiotics in food animals for any non-therapeutic use.
- The Department of Justice must prevent the continued consolidation of the meatpacking and poultry, egg and dairy processing industries and revisit the mergers it has already approved to ensure that farmers get fair prices for their livestock. The USDA should use its existing authority to stop meat and poultry companies from using unfair contracts to put farmers at a disadvantage.