Is Factory Farming the Future for America

Categories: Animals

As technology advances and researchers gather more information for studies, we learn that many things we consume is not good for us. Before I became educated on the circumstances that animals endure just for us to eat, I always enjoyed meat. It never affected me until I seen a couple documentaries on what farm owners feed the animals and how they treat them. I conducted my own research and found that it indeed is true that animals are abused and fed steroids so they grow fast and can quickly be killed just so farmers can meet their production numbers.

Animals and humans are suffering from the unnatural, inhumane conditions in factory farms. I chose this topic because learning this has caused me to not even want to eat as much meat as I used to. I was always against animal cruelty and when I did gain knowledge of this topic I instantly thought that continuing to eat as much meat that I consume is contributing to animal cruelty.

Beginning with animals, they are almost always crammed into confined environments. There are 10 billion farm animals that are being raised each year to live in horrible environments (ASPCA). The demand of mass production in the meat production has caused farm workers to go to the extreme of feeding animals steroids in order for them to grow faster. Also, since they have to continuously meet their daily numbers they do not have time to separate the sick animals or clean up feces so the other animals do not consume it.

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Again, because of mass production there is a demand of farm workers. These workers have to deal with the feces and sick animals first hand. The workers can contract anything that the animals are sick with. Workers are not given proper work conditions which potentially harm them because they suffer from the decisions of farm.

In the U.S, animals raised on factory farms generate 1 million tons of manure a day. Factory farms typically store animal waste in huge, open-air lagoons, often as big as several football fields, which are prone to leaks and spills. To promote faster growth, producers feed farm animals a number of antibiotics. 75 percent of the antibiotics fed to farm animals end up undigested in their urine and manure. Through this waste, the antibiotics may contaminate crops and waterways, ultimately ingested by humans (Farm Sanctuary inc, 2017).

We do not have to put an end to farming completely, just the practice of factory farming. Organic farming is a great practice that farm owners can follow. There is little to no harm in these farms. They do not use antibiotics to grow animals which takes longer for animals to grow that what factory farms are used to but at least they are growing healthy.

What are Factory Farms?

A factory farm is a large, industrial operation that raises large numbers of animals in a small space for food. Factory farms are often called Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). This is a place where animals are birthed, raised, then killed for food. Over 95% of farm animals in the U.S. are raised in factory farms, which only focus on profit and efficiency at the expense of animal welfare (ASPCA, 2018). The animals are not raised healthy, they are often times given drugs to stimulate their growth. In the rural areas farming is common unlike in urban areas. They have to make their daily, weekly and/or monthly goals so they are going to do anything necessary to keep their production numbers high.

A large factory farm/CAFO will house at least 1000 cattle, 2500 hogs or 125,000 chickens. A medium factory farm/CAFO will house between 300-999 cattle other than dairy (200-699 if dairy), 750-2,499 hogs if 55 pounds or more, and 37,500 to 124,999 chickens (other than hens that lay eggs) if the facility doesn’t use a liquid manure handling system (Yee, 2012). Factory farms are known for their harsh cruelty because animals are kept in large numbers and small quarters, often without access to fresh air or pasture. Sometimes the cages are so small the animals cant even turn around. This treatment is animal cruelty.

Animal Welfare

In factory farms, animals aren’t treated as the sentimental and smart creatures they are. Instead they are treated as production units, raised by the thousand in tight confined corners where they can move or behave normally. Majority of the meat we consume are from animals who have developed behavioral issues from not being able to do things that are natural to them. Confining animals like this is unsanitary and is one of the reasons disease spreads on farm grounds.

Hens used for their eggs are packed into a battery cage, unable to spread their wings. Being held in such close confines, the hens peck at each other’s feathers and bodies. Pregnant sows spend each of their pregnancies confined to a gestation crate a metal enclosure, unable to even turn around. Sows develop abnormal behaviors, suffer leg problems and skin lesions. Growing pigs are confined to slatted, bare, concrete floors. Stressed by crowding and boredom, they frequently resort to biting and inflicting wounds upon their penmates (Animal Welfare Institute). Crowding animals together in these close spaces induce stress, suppress their immune systems, and raise parasite loads making them more susceptible to infections (USA Today Magazine, 2009).

Confining animals at a high-stock density is a way to produce the highest output at the lowest cost. Crowded conditions of factory farms make it easy for disease to spread, which leads to food safety risks. When thousands of beef cattle are packed into feedlots full of manure, bacteria can get on their hides and then into slaughterhouses where bacteria on even one animal can contaminate thousands of pounds of meat. (Food And Water Watch, 2007) The bacteria can lead to animals getting sick as well as the people who consume these meats.

Labels that we know as “Certified Humane” labels leave many people questioning if these labels are true. But, these labels happen to be misleading. Many egg companies may include “cage-free” on their packaging. This label would mean that the hens that produced the eggs in the carton were not raised confined in cages (Valleays, 2017). Whether these hens were “cage-free” or not they still endured the same thing caged hens went through. This included their beaks being ripped off. “Cage-free” hens are packed in poorly ventilated rooms, they still do not have room to flap their wings or even more.

Recently, the New York Post has reported that 12 million pounds of beef has been recalled due to a salmonella outbreak (Klausner, 2018). An Arizona food company has recalled the beef since they found that there might be a possibility that it has been exposed to bacteria. These products manufactured by the Arizona company ships nationwide to many stores. Thankfully, there has not been any deaths from this outbreak but there has been numerous cases in about 26 states. 12 million pounds of beef is a huge amount, imagine how many cows were tortured and killed just for their meat to be thrown out due to an outbreak. This company is a factory farm and it supports that confining animals in small spaces while feeding them antibiotics it causes disease to spread which is why it was so easy for salmonella to spread to a large amount of beef. This leads back to the mass greed that the meat industries have. They are willing to do anything to quickly produce products. Since they are not careful and do not take the necessary precautions they end up losing out on a lot than they would if they originally took the necessary precautions.

The Use of Pharmaceuticals/Antibiotics

Since the 1950s, antibiotics have been used on factory farms to increase the rate of growth in animals. The use of antibiotics in healthy animals definitely pose a deadly risk to humans. Today, an estimated 70 percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are given to farm animals for non-therapeutic purposes. It is also estimated that by 2050 antibiotic-resistant bacteria will kill about 10 million people a year (Wilson, 2016 ). This projection of 10 million people is greater than the projected deaths from cancer and diabetes. This not only cost people their lives, this costs the country about $70 billion each year. Using antibiotics in this way can promote the growth of drug-resistant bacteria; as a result, certain bacterial infections have already become or are on their way to becoming untreatable in humans. If this bacteria were to spread it would be very detrimental to the health of humans because antibiotic medicine would be an ineffective treatment.

Antibiotic resistant infections kill 90,000 Americans every year (Farms Sanctuary, 2017). If these antibiotic-resistant bacteria continue to rise, doctors have to deal with this bacteria that medicine cannot effectively treat. Factory farming practices are not beneficial due to the damaged health of the environment, animals, and people. However, factory farming practices had brought a big impact to the world involving with industrial techniques. With the industrial techniques, this was a major change into huge enterprises. From the investigation and evidence from scientists, it was proved that factory farming practices had brought destructive health to the animals, people, and the environment.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not really done anything to protect consumers against farmers feeding animals antibiotics not prescribed from veterinarians. The FDA can do more to protect the lives of people instead, they are allowing the antibiotic-resistant bacteria to continue to grow as a threat. According to Time Magazine, the food industry has commented on the idea of not using antibiotics in the production of meat. They believe that the use of antibiotics is what produces their money because they can produce meat in large quantities (Walsh, 2014). The mass production would decrease if farmers were not using antibiotics to meet or exceed their goals which could cause farmers to raise the price of their meat. This shows that antibiotics is not necessary but is not ideal for farmers.

Human Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, animal products are the primary source of saturated fat in the American diet. Saturated fat has been linked to heart disease and obesity. Cows in the dairy industry can be given growth hormones in order to increase their milk production. Once their productivity declines, these cows are slaughtered for beef. The six growth hormones commonly used by the U.S. dairy industry have been shown to significantly increase the risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer in beef consumers. Producers are not required to list the use of hormones on product labels. This is unfair to those who are not educated on the treatment of what they are consuming.

Poor sanitation and waste management on factory farms can lead to the contamination of the food supply by bacteria like E.coli and salmonella. The food supply can easily be contaminated with feces and bacteria and cause a major outbreak. Each year, 76 million Americans become ill from food borne illness, and thousands die. When food items are recalled it is because someone has reported it and gotten sick. These companies do not know that their food is contaminated when they are packaging it and shipping it to different stores. Endless studies have proven that a diet rich in animal proteins can lead to a host of health problems, most notably obesity.

Not only do these conditions harm the animals but it harms the worker as well as the environment. The workers are often overlooked, people do think of the harm the factories are doing to the workers. The intensive farming systems used on factory farms affects the environment and the workers. A study conducted by Iowa State University in 2002 concluded that about 70 percent of factory farm workers suffer from acute bronchitis and 25 percent suffer from chronic bronchitis (Food & Water Watch, 2007). The bronchitis comes from the working conditions like dealing with gas and exposure to pathogens. This is rarely thought of but workers also deal with hearing loss from listening to these animals screech, over a period of time can cause hearing loss and or increase stress levels. There are more health risks from these factories like polluting the air, spreading pathogenic viruses, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria spreading to humans and animals.

Neighborhoods of these factory farmers are also at a risk as high as factory workers are. A study was done in 2002-2004 among all adults (18-45 years old) to prove women who live near Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) were exposed to a high microbial exposure which led to microbial-based respiratory or reproductive health issue, study participants completed a 56- item questionnaire to determine their frequency of symptoms. After the survey it was proven that confined animal feeding operations may contribute to the burden of respiratory disease among their neighbors. (Gibbs, Hurd, Green, Gandara, Tarwater, 2012).

When humans become infected, illnesses will become harder to fight as well as in animals. This causes hospitals to be in danger of being overwhelmed with untreatable infectious diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, meningitis, typhoid fever and dysentery (Robbins, 2010). Experts agree that most (and perhaps all) strains of the influenza virus that infect human beings originated from contact with other animals (Anomaly, 2015). The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the swine flu was just a start to a much larger pandemic especially if factory farm animals are still mistreated and raised in harsh conditions. The Swine Flu is a respiratory infection that is caused by a strain found in pigs. This infection was known to be contracted after coming in contact with pigs.

Some diseases like H1N1 (Swine Flu) and Avian Flu, are communicable from animals to humans. These “zoonotic” diseases have the potential to become pandemics. Experts believe that the outbreak of H1N1 was likely caused by the overcrowding of pigs on factory farms and the storage of their waste in giant manure lagoons (Farms Sanctuary, 2017).

Consuming meat is not the only way to be put at risk, farm grounds, in general, are breeding grounds for virulent diseases which spread to our water, air, and to the farmers that work in those conditions (Sayre, 2009).

Environmental Hazard

Human and animal health is not the only way factory farms are harming. Factory farming is one of main causes of air and water pollution. The waste that is produced on a day to day basis is too much for farm workers to properly dispose of. They leave the waste that consists of antibiotics in large bins that sometimes spill into land or water. This contaminates crops and animals in the water. This gives other farmers less area to work with because it is contaminated with antibiotics and feces that can cause disease. If the area where the waste is stored in bins becomes crowded, the farm workers use a system that sprays the waste into the air. This contaminates the air for others to breathe but also the water supply. Spraying the waste into the air with undigested antibiotics causes air pollution.

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Is Factory Farming the Future for America. (2022, May 02). Retrieved from

Is Factory Farming the Future for America
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