It is so amazing that most Americans are so caring of the animals they keep as pets, and yet are so unconcerned about the upbringing or disposition of the ones they cook for dinner. It is amazing how some Americans see themselves as sympathizing folks and animal lovers until they reflect on what they just ate. Society loves animals as pets, adopts them as extensions of their families, spend ridiculous amounts of money on them, and mourn their deaths. How is it that these same Americans are so indifferent towards the ones they cook for dinner (Arora, 2013)? Factory farms dominate U.S. food production, employing practices that severely abuse animals, puts an enormous strain on our natural resources, and threatens the Nation’s health.
Factory farms provide cheap meat that is more affordable to more people, utilizes less real-estate, creates the avenue for more farming jobs to stay in the U.S, and allows cheap fast food to exist. These are really great advantages of the factory farming industry, but come at a tremendous cost. Factory farming puts an enormous strain on our natural resources. According to a report in Farmsanctuary (2013), the factory farming industry puts incredible strain on our natural resources. The extreme amount of waste created by raising so many animals in one place pollutes our land, air, and water (para. 2).
Unmanaged and untreated waste that accumulates from combined animal operations is contributing to emissions that are rapidly warming the planet, creating water pollution, and “dead zones” in our oceans and lakes. The environments in which these animals are confined are severely contaminated and present a significant source for increased infection in their animals, especially poultry, their by-products and
eventually humans (O’Brien, 2001).
The preservation of our natural resources is important to our survival. If the accumulation of waste and byproducts are allowed to continue due to substandard practices of factory farming industries, our natural resources will continue to diminish. This depletion will inevitably contribute to or provide a catalyst for other problems like issues with our health. When it comes to our health, Americans are very concerned. They may turn a blind eye to the environmental fall-out caused by Factory farming, but they will raise their concerns about the health risks. Diseases like Salmonella, Mad cow, and breathing problems like asthma are increased because of the effects of factory farming on our natural resources.
There is also an increase of antibiotic-resistant diseases being identified due to the substandard their practices. In the report from Farmsanctuary (2013), Residents of rural communities surrounding factory farms report high incidents of illness, and their property values are often lowered by their proximity to industrial farms. To counteract the health challenges presented by overcrowded, stressful, unsanitary living conditions, antibiotics are used extensively on factory farms, which can create drug-resistant bacteria and put human health at risk (para. 3).
The consistent contact of factory farmed animals with these health hazards, combined with the abuse of antibiotics and growth hormones, as well as other drugs to boost productivity, greatly increases the possibility of infection and disease in its consumers. The byproducts created by theses practices pollute our drinking water and the land that these same farmers plant crops, further exasperating farming conditions by producing unhealthy crops that increase the health risk of consumers. If society only scratches the surface of life down on the factory farm, they will see that diseases like Mad Cow disease may be the tip of the iceberg. In a range of areas, from feeding regimes, to animal housing, to the use of drugs in the pursuit of productivity, human health may be threatened by factory farming (O’brien, 2001).
The continued accumulation of waste, combined with the health risks that have become natural by products of Factory farming have become a significant threat to society. If something is not done to alleviate or significantly reduce these effects, the Nation may be on a path of self destruction through overzealous production of food to satisfy consumer consumption, meet consumer demands, and boost financial statuses of farmers in the industry.
The main aspect that can be immediately addressed to improve Factory farming living is the living conditions in these factories. The overcrowding of animals at these farms creates a frustrated work environment that fosters accepted abuse, which in-turn amplifies the waste and health conditions. This vicious cycle perpetuates an issue that will inevitably lead to issues of epidemic proportion.
A report by Long (2013), stated that, Chickens are crowded so tightly together that they can barely turn around, never seeing daylight or eating a single blade of grass. Beef cattle are “finished” in huge feedlots, standing all day in their own manure, again with no access to the fresh grass that has been their natural diet for thousands of years. (para. 1). These conditions may not sound so detrimental to some, but combined with the abuse they endure, the conditions are unbelievable and inhumane. Here are some examples given by Editorial Today (2008) on animal cruelty at these farms,
Cows are still being forced to be cannibalistic, as they are fed blood, bone meal, and other miscellaneous aspects of other cows (no brain matter, but most everything else)….. [ ] Veal calves are crammed in pens so small that they can’t move their limbs…..[ ] Animals are put in semi-darkness which in some cases, cause unbearable conditions (para. 7). And for the cultivation of “Foie gras” (a delicacy), farmers force-feed ducks and geese an unnatural amount and type of food until their livers become diseased and enlarge up to ten times their normal, healthy size (etoday, 2008). Finally, there are everyday, routine mutilations that are being conducted all in the name of productivity. Mutilations like castration, de-beaking, de-toeing, tail docking, and others. All of which are executed without any form of anesthesia.
Why has this transformation happened and is allowed to continue one may ask? Well, the answer is simply to accommodate the mass meat industry and to satisfy the demand of a carnivorous society. It is the twentieth century ideology of modern economics and the assembly line, turning farm animals into number-tagged bodies to be fattened, disinfected, and processed as quickly and cheaply as possible (Arora 2013). Because of this demand, large numbers of animals are being raised in extreme confinement.
They are regarded as commodities to be exploited for profit, not humane animals, able to feel pain and suffering, and possessing a soul. Factory farmed animals are bred to grow unnaturally fast and large for the purpose of maximizing meat, egg, and milk production for the food industry. Their bodies cannot support this growth, which results in debilitating and painful conditions and deformities (Farmsanctuary, 2013). Many in society are now getting their voices heard as they ask the question, “Isn’t there a better way to produce food?” If the practice of mass meat holocaust is allowed to continue at these Factory farms, there are several aspects of society that will continue to degrade. The significant contribution to diseases and natural resource depletion that taints the water, soil, and air of the external environment will perpetuate.
These contaminants will continue to finds it’s way into human bodies as chemical pollutants (antibiotics, pharmaceuticals in the meat and our drinking water) and greatly affect other systems with consequences like birth defects and reduced life expectancy. And there is tradition. There natural passing down of tradition from generation to generation will be lost.
All the first-hand knowledge and experience in the farming industry will silently be erased due to the limited raising, handling, basic interaction of livestock and farm animals in the modernity of the factory industry. Generations of farmers will grow up without the first-hand experience and knowledge of farming and the art will inevitably be lost. Several proactive groups and other agencies in government continue to advocate the reduction of inhumane and unhealthy practices in the factory farming industry at a vigorous rate.
Yet consumers continue to partake, invest, and expand the factory farming industry. How is it possible that even after the education of the public on how animals are treated, most of us them still decide to continue the patronization of factory-farmed meat? An article in editorial today gave one answer when it stated, “We might conclude that the price we make animals pay, and the price we pay in sacrificing part of our humanity, are worth the benefits (para. 6).” Could this be true? Society is willfully to turn a blind eye to the cruelty because of the lust for meat? This raises another question, when and where does it end? How far is society will to go, and how much are they willing to sacrifice to receive fast, cheap meat? What will it take to rekindle their capacity for love and stop the abused process of obliteration? There are no easy answers to the myriad of questions.
Factory farms continue to dominate U.S. food production, employing practices that severely abuse animals, putting a tremendous amount of strain on natural resources, and threatening the health of the nation with disease. However, there is one thought that has become accepted course of action amongst advocates. Consumers must eliminate or reduce the consumption of non-organic and inhumanely-raised beef, pork, chicken, meat, eggs, and dairy products, as well as farmed fish. Force Factory farmers and the meat industry to rethink their methods of production so that they, along with consumers, do not become the associate authors of a diseased, unsympathetic, cruel, and dying society. Mahatma Gandhi said it best, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Does this nation consider itself great?
ARORA, N. (2013). On Eating Animals. Humanist, 73(4), 26-31. Editorial Today. (2008). Hobbies and Interests. Factory Farming Pros and Cons. Retrieved from: http://www.streetdirectory.com/etoday/factory-farming-pros-and-cons-awwlc.html Farmsanctuary. (2013). Farming. Retrieved from: http://www.farmsanctuary.org/learn/
Long, C. (2000, Nov). Factory farming is fouling our food. Organic Gardening, 47, 12. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/203726517?accountid=32521 O’Brien, T., Adock, M., Rifkin, J., & Pickard, B. M. (2001, 06). Factory farming and human health. The Ecologist, , 30-34. Retrieved from