Industrial livestock operations (aka factory farms) threaten human health, damage the environment, degrade rural communities and compromise animal welfare. This series explores the issue... in all its manure-spewing, pestilent repugnance.
The latest calculations from Compassion in World Farming suggest that we farm around 70 billion animals worldwide every year - nearly 10 animals for every single person on the planet. Around 70% of these animals (that's nearly 50 billionare factory farmed, which is bad news for the farm animals, as well as people and planet.
I received an email from a concerned citizen of Poland the other day inquiring if there were hog farms in his country like the ones he had seen on TV in Mexico. I guaranteed him that there were indeed such factory farms in Eastern Europe, and that they were doing terrible damage to the environment, animals, and the people.
Demystifying the Environmental Sustainability of Food Production, a paper by Jude Capper, Roger Cady and Dale Bauman, demonstrates either a lamentable misunderstanding of the impacts of livestock production practices, or a willful effort to misrepresent the facts. Or perhaps a little of both.
A conflict in New Mexico is shaping up as a pitched battle between industrial dairy's desire to avoid regulation and the public's right to clean, safe drinking water. According to the state environment department, at least two-thirds of the groundwater underneath or adjacent to New Mexico's dairy CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) has been poisoned by nitrates.
The Minidoka Internment Camp, promised permanent preservation as a National Historic Site, is threatened with becoming permanently overshadowed by the massive waste lagoons, poisoned air and putrid water that characterize Idaho's dairy CAFOs.
It's been quite a week for US poultry. On Monday, 25 US Senators ranging across the ideological spectrum from Al Franken to Orrin Hatch, united to urge President Obama to use his meeting this Thursday with President Medvedev to negotiate an end to Russia's ban on imports of US chicken. On Tuesday the USDA issued proposed rules to clarify the meaning of "unfair business practices" under the almost 90-year-old federal Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act with the goal of reliving some of the abuses found in the poultry and livestock industries.
Nobody likes a massive outbreak of foodborne illness. On the upside, when 1,500 consumers are sickened by Salmonella and industrial processors are forced to recall more than half a billion eggs, people start to pay a bit more attention to how these things are being produced.
When prompted to consider water pollution, most people envision classic point sources; the corroded factory pipe, the municipal waste treatment plant, the oil behemoth's offshore well. But when I don my Water Pollution Contemplation Cap, I inevitably envision industrial livestock facilities.
Since regulatory agencies are often unable and/or unwilling to provide this information, Food & Water Watch used the USDA's Census of Agriculture to calculate the number of mega-livestock facilities in each county, providing an outstanding visual representation of national and state distribution trends.
HOME, a new documentary from French filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand, narrated by Glenn Close, is a tremendous illustration of nature at its finest and humanity's impact on it at its most destructive. The film is showing for free at the East Village Cinema starting tomorrow.