Animal Farms Get Bigger and Bigger

Saturday, January 01, 2011
The last two decades witnessed the continued disappearance of small- and medium-sized farms, thanks to the ever-expanding presence of corporate-owned “factory” farms, according to Food and Water Watch.
In a new report, the agricultural watchdog organization found the number of dairy cows on factory farms (those with more than 500 cows) nearly doubled, from 2.5 million in 1997 to 4.9 million in 2007. “The growth of factory-farmed dairies in western states like Idaho, California, New Mexico and Texas shifted dairy production away from traditional dairy states like Wisconsin, New York and Michigan,” reads the report.
Large hog and chicken farms also grew in quantity, with the number of hogs on factory farms increasing by 36.3% from 46.1 million in 1997 to 62.9 million in 2007, while the number of broiler chickens on the largest factory farms nearly doubled to 1 billion.
Food and Water Watch says the growth of factory farms can be traced to three reasons:
·       “Misguided farm policy encouraged over-production of commodity crops such as corn and soybeans, which artificially depressed the price of livestock feed and created an indirect subsidy to factory farm operations”;
·       “Unchecked mergers and acquisitions between the largest meatpacking, poultry processing and dairy companies created an intensely consolidated landscape where a few giant agribusinesses exert tremendous pressure on livestock producers to become larger and more intensive”;
·       “Lax environmental rules and lackluster enforcement allowed factory farms to grow to extraordinary sizes without having to properly manage the overwhelming amount of manure they create.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff


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