What comes to mind when you think of farming? Huge pastures, grazing animals and a peaceful life? Maybe you think of field after field of waving grain or herds contented Angus cattle soon to be turned into juicy ribeyes.
Whatever you think of, it probably isn’t wholly accurate (unless you own or work on a farm). If that’s the case, maybe you’re here to see what factory farming is and why it is such a problem.
No matter if you’re a full-blown skeptic or if you are willing to open your mind, the facts are the facts. Keep reading to see why people are so worried.
The Health Issues
This section will cover both the health concerns for humans and the health concerns for the animals raised in the factory farming industry.
Factory farming relies on using as little space as possible to reap the most benefit. This is for both crops and animals. That means that animals are put into extremely small and cramped cages. With the lack of space, the animals can’t develop fully. This makes them prone to lots of different diseases, conditions, and ailments. Most of the time, the animals are cooped in their own feces that runs off into the crop fields.
Since these animals are often sickly and some on the verge of dying, factory farm owners have to pump them full of antibiotics and steroids. As a result, people who eat the meat are indirectly consuming these substances. That’s why viruses and diseases are becoming more and more antibiotic-resistant. We are giving them practice material to get stronger through the animals.
The Economic Issues
Such intensive animal agriculture might seem at first, like a wonderful decision to cut costs and generate nice profits for farmers. That much is true — for the 0.001%. The corporations that own these huge farming conglomerates have cornered the market to their extreme benefit.
These days, seeds are patented as intellectual property. That means that farmers, who have to buy seeds from large companies, are unable to keep seeds that do not germinate during the season. If they keep the seeds, they are liable to be sued by the company that owns the seed patent. Not only that, but the initial price of the seeds is increasing at an alarming rate.
If the farmers don’t always have perfect seasons (which is often the case), it means death for their business. This cycle puts farmers into debt with these companies forcing many to file for bankruptcy and leave farming altogether.
The Environmental Issues
Factory farming is all about quick results. Since the focus is not on quality but on turn over, the methods used are not properly tested. The pesticides that are sprayed on crops are highly dangerous and ruin the land around them. The runoff has led to poison in the water and huge build-ups of algae that destroy aquatic habitats.
Factory farming never gives the land time to breathe. In order to become arable (i.e. farmable) again, the soil needs either a break between seasons or a rotation of crops that allows for variety. Because of this, the land becomes a desert after a couple of years. It becomes impossible to grow crops unless the farmer uses dangerous fertilizers and chemicals.
The Bottom Line
Factory farming is not sustainable. The toll it takes on all concerned: animals, the environment, public health and employees it ultimately not worth the benefits going to the top few.
Addressing the issue is complex, but solutions to consider take the form of reducing our consumption of animal products, a more conservative approach to agriculture and a greater concern for the environment and public health safety.