Over the last two decades, small- and medium-scale farms raising animals for food have given way to factory farms that confine thousands of cows, hogs and chickens in tightly packed facilities. Factory farms produce millions of gallons of manure that can spill into waterways from leaking storage lagoons or fields where manure is over-applied to soil. Manure generates hazardous air pollutants and contains contaminants that can endanger human health. Neighbors of factory farms, as well as the workers in them, often suffer intensely from overwhelming odors and related headaches, nausea and other long-term health effects.
A handful of corporations—producers of seeds, processors of meat and milk, and grocery retailers—now dominate most aspects of the food system, giving them enormous power to control markets and pricing, and enabling them to influence food and agricultural regulations.
The largest of these agribusinesses are practically monopolies, controlling what consumers get to eat, what they pay for groceries and what prices farmers receive for their crops and livestock.
This analysis, however, fails to take into account the many hidden costs, including declining rural economies and farmer livelihoods, environmental damage and public health consequences. While increasing the speed of production, the intensive confinement production system creates a number of problems.
F Rural Economies Among the hidden costs of industrial food production are its effects on small family farms and rural communities, which include the loss of nearly four million farms in the United States since the s.
F Sustainable farms support local economies by providing jobs for members of the community and purchasing supplies from local businesses. F Studies have shown that small, locally owned farms have a multiplier effect: F Factory farms hire as few workers as possible and often purchase equipment, supplies, and animal feed from the same agricultural conglomerates that purchase their products.
F Industrial farms often have absentee owners whose profits are sent out of town. F In other words, sustainable farms require more workers and create more jobs, while also doing a better job of feeding people on smaller plots of land than industrial farms.
Despite decades of claims to the contrary, industrial farming has not relieved famine or hunger throughout the world. F Meanwhile, a study by the University of Essex found that sustainable agriculture increased productivity by an average of 93 percent on nine million farms in places including the Sahel region of Africa, the hills of the Andes, the rainforests of Southeast Asia, and other areas where synthetic-chemical-dependent farming is neither affordable nor successful.
F As many Western governments and foundations are attempting to introduce industrial agriculture to Africa, a report by an international affiliate of the United Nations, endorsed by 58 countries and prepared by experts, advocated instead a low-input, small-scale agricultural model.
F Inthe United Nations reported that using low-input organic methods, African farmers could double their production. F Subsidies Vilified in public policy debates, farm subsidies comprise a flawed but vital part of the current government support system for farmers.
Farming is unlike most other business because most farmers are highly leveraged—literally banking the farm on a yearly basis to borrow money for operating costs, with the hope that their crop generates a profit.
Because of weather, pest infestations, and financial speculation, farming is also a highly volatile business. For these reasons, agriculture relies on the government to provide a safety net.
Commodity subsidies accomplish this, but also, unfortunately, currently have the effect of propping up a system designed to drive overproduction of commodity crops—supplying the cheap corn and soy that drive factory farms and corporate profits.
A better policy approach would be to set up price floors for farmers, creating a sort of minimum wage, while also establishing a reserve system of commodity crops.
This would enable the government to manage supply and prices by releasing the reserve onto the market when harvests are bad and buying up surplus crops when the harvests are good. Reducing the volatility in commodity markets would help farmers avoid their natural tendency to plant crops on every inch of their farms, and could reduce the overproduction that lets commodity crop buyers who turn corn and soybeans into animal feed for factory farms and ingredients for processed food pay too low a price to farmers.
Market Concentration Meat production today is marked by intense market concentration in which a very small number of corporate packers accounts for the majority of meat that ends up in your grocery store. Infour corporations slaughtered F This enormous market power wielded by a handful of small companies has the effect of dramatically reducing competition in agricultural markets, which also reduces prices paid to farmers.
For example, an independent beef producer used to have myriad buyers vying to purchase his or her product, including auction houses; today, increasingly, the beef producer may only have one or two corporate buyers, greatly diminishing his or her ability to get a fair price. F Abusive Patents A growing source of revenue in agriculture is patents.
By creating a new animal breed or plant seed or agrochemical and patenting it, a company can control its use—how much it costs and how it can and cannot be used. F For farmers, this means fewer options and higher prices for their major input—seeds.
F Widely hyped and poorly regulated, genetically engineered crops are of dubious value to farmers, while endanger their health and livelihoods.Rush Limbaugh makes the argument that factory farming is acceptable because it is positive for economic growth.
However, as in various cases greed is the source of many. Food Economics. In the last several decades, the economics of the food system have changed dramatically.
Even when the hidden costs of factory farming are ignored, Farming is unlike most other business because most farmers are highly leveraged—literally banking the farm on a yearly basis to borrow money for operating costs, with the. It can use this resource to build a factory on or to plant crops on.
The company can also hold onto the land and try to resell it later for more money. more economic growth more job opportunities more sales to other countries. you are able to see the highest price and quantities that are acceptable for consumers to consider a demand.
Factory farms dominate U.S. food production, employing abusive practices that maximize agribusiness profits at the expense of the environment, our communities, animal welfare, and even our health.
Their bodies cannot support this growth, which results in debilitating and painful conditions and deformities. The factory farming industry puts. The animals in factory farming know what is about to happen to them just like a human would know that he is being walked to the death chamber.
There are actual photos of cows crying real tears. Rush Limbaugh makes the argument that factory farming is acceptable because it is positive for economic growth. However, as in various cases greed is the source of many evils.
The idea of “bigger and better things” and the extra dollar ultimately molds society’s morals.