San Francisco, CA – The consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch today unveiled the newest version of its pioneering Factory Farm Map (www.factoryfarmmap.org), which charts the concentration of factory farms across the country and the impacts these massive operations have on human health, communities, and the environment. The interactive map illustrates the geographic shifts in where and how livestock are raised in the U.S. and allows anyone to quickly search for the highest concentration of animals by region, state and county.
Although the overall number of livestock farms across the country has decreased, the Food & Water Watch Factory Farm Map illustrates that big operations are getting bigger, with specific regions and states bearing the brunt of intensive animal production. The map highlights California’s Central Valley as a major factory farm center.
“Despite all the talk in California of sustainable food and small farms, the vast majority of our meat and milk still comes from huge factory farms, most of them in the Central Valley,” said Elanor Starmer, Western Region Director with Food & Water Watch. “On average, California’s livestock operations are much larger than in other parts of the country. It’s our hope that the Factory Farm Map will give Californians a visual picture of where their food comes from and how factory farms are impacting communities and the environment in our state.”
Food & Water Watch extensively analyzed U.S. Department of Agriculture Census data at the state and county level from 1997, 2002 and 2007 for beef and dairy cattle, hogs, broiler meat chickens and egg-laying operations. It found that the total number of livestock on the largest factory farms rose by more than 20 percent nationally between 2002 and 2007. In both California and nationally, the number of dairy cows on factory farms nearly doubled, making them the fastest-growing population of factory-farmed animals.
Other key findings for California from the Factory Farm Map include:
- The total number of livestock in California grew by nearly 15 percent between 2002 and 2007.
- The number of factory-farmed dairy cows in California increased by nearly 50 percent between 1997 and 2007, adding more than half a million cows.
- The number of factory-farmed broiler chickens increased by over 19 percent and the average operation doubled in size over the decade. By 2007, the average broiler operation in California housed 1.4 million chickens.
- The average size of an egg-laying hen operation in California grew dramatically as well. In 1997, the average factory-farmed layer operation housed nearly 400,000 hens; by 2007, the average operation housed over 530,000.
- California was the fourth-largest factory-farmed egg producing state in the nation in 2007.
- In 2007, all the dairy cows, beef cattle, hogs, broiler and egg-laying chickens on factory farms in California produced as much untreated manure as 456 million people — more than the entire U.S. population.
Food & Water Watch also released a companion report, Factory Farm Nation, which explains the forces driving factory farms, as well as the environmental, public health, and economic consequences of this type of animal production. The report examines the underlying factors driving the growth of factory farms and the demise of small and midsized farms.
“This map shows the extent to which factory farms have taken over farming and our communities,” said Robby Kenner, director of the Academy Award-nominated film Food, Inc. “Through the Factory Farm Map, Food & Water Watch is shining a spotlight on the mega-corporations that need to be held accountable for the damage they’re doing to our health, environment and rural economies.”
In addition to the map itself, the website ranks the top concentrations of factory farmed livestock nationwide as well as by state and county. It features a newsfeed for monitoring local and national factory farm news and social media tools that allow users to share the map and its data via Facebook, Twitter, email and RSS feed. The Factory Farm Map website includes a widget that bloggers and other websites can embed on their sites and a variety of other online tools for activists to spread the word and encourage local, regional or national action.
“Whether you live near a factory farm and are subject to the groundwater contamination or air pollution it causes, are a farmer struggling to make a living while protecting the environment, or live hundreds of miles away and eat the meat or eggs from potentially unsafe facilities, very few people are unaffected by the industrialization of our food system,” said Starmer. “The Factory Farm Map arms consumers with critical information about how our food is being produced and what we need to do to chart a course to a more sustainable food system.”
The Factory Farm Map and the companion report can be found at www.factoryfarmmap.org.