Over thirty experts from the public health, environmental, and animal welfare movements, are debating the consequences of factory farming at the first National Conference to End Factory Farming. Below are some of the discussion highlights and information emerging from the conference.
Top Five Ways to End Factory Farming
Farm Sanctuary President and Co-Founder Gene Baur: “The best way to end factory farming is to make the system transparent and accountable, and to align agribusiness practices with our citizens’ values and interests. The cruelty of industrial animal agriculture is an affront to basic human decency. It is inefficient, unhealthy and unsustainable, and costs our nation hundreds of billions of dollars every year.”
Whole Foods Market Co-CEO John Mackey: “The best way to end factory farming is to first create more humane alternatives to it in the marketplace. The great majority of people are very unlikely to become vegans for the foreseeable future. It is therefore essential to create more humane alternatives that help raise peoples’ consciousness about what factory farming really does to animals by providing strong contrasts to compare against. Until there are widespread humane alternatives to choose from most people will prefer to remain wilfully ignorant and very little is likely to change.”
Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter: “Factory farming is a threat to public health, the environment, and the rural communities upon which our food system desperately depend. The next farm bill must urgently reverse the policies that have given all of the advantages to intensive farming operations while pushing out the small and mid-sized farms that are the backbone of a system that provides us safe, healthy and sustainable food.”
Sierra Club Water Sentinel Lynn Henning: “The best way to end factory farming is to eliminate government subsidies, incentives, and tax breaks for CAFOs [Confined Animal Feeding Operations]. CAFOs are NOT sustainable. We must rethink agriculture to teach the next generation to farm. Family farms have fed this country for generations.”
Farm Sanctuary National Shelter Director Susie Coston: “The best way to end factory farming is to show people that farm animals are intelligent, emotional beings who possess just as much desire to enjoy life as the dogs and cats who we know a bit better.”
Five Things You May Not Know About Factory Farms
John Ikerd, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri, Columbia: “Factory farms are not necessarily more economically efficient than smaller-scale independent family farms. Factory farm operators use their political influence and their ability to manipulate market prices to drive more efficient family farmers out of business. Food prices are no lower with factory farms than with independent family farms.”
Jim Motavalli, contributor to the New York Times, Audubon Magazine, Mother Nature Network and NPR’s Car Talk, and author of the forthcoming book High Voltage: “Since the popular image of farms is of old-time barnyards populated by happy pigs and chickens, most people don’t even know that factory farming exists. They’d be horrified if they knew how their food is produced, but the industry does an excellent job of keeping them from that reality.”
International Fund for Africa President and Co-Founder Dr. Anteneh Roba: “The one thing most people don’t know about factory farming in Africa is that it even exists. The one thing most people don’t know about factory farming in the USA is how extremely cruel it is.”
Greenpeace Senior Legislative Representative Kyle Ash: “Public health and animal welfare are inseparable. Forever, industry has tried to divide communities over factory farming, with false claims that industrial food production reduces the need to destroy our air, water and lands. The truth is that factory farming makes every public health problem worse. Shutting down factory farms is a common solution to some of our greatest animal and environmental abuses and we should work together to shut them down.”
Farm Sanctuary President and Co-Founder Gene Baur: “Most people don’t know how terribly animals are treated on today’s factory farms, and that they are legally excluded from basic humane protections.”
Top Five Problems with Factory Farming
John Ikerd, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri, Columbia: The biggest single problem with factory farming is that it shows no respect for the sanctity of life — either the life of farm animals or human life. Factory farming treats feedlots as biological assembly lines, where the animals are simply machines that produce meat, milk, or eggs for nameless, faceless consumers, with no respect for the people who work in them or live in the communities where they operate. This lack of respect for life undermines the ethical and moral fabric of society.
International Fund for Africa President and Co-Founder Dr. Anteneh Roba: “It causes environmental disaster.”
Jim Motavalli, contributor to the New York Times, Audubon Magazine, Mother Nature Network and NPR’s Car Talk, and author of the forthcoming book High Voltage: From an environmental point of view, the worst thing about intensive animal agriculture is it’s huge inefficiency. It takes five pounds of grain to produce a pound of meat, and a 10-acre farm that could feed 60 growing soybeans would support only two people raising cattle. Reducing American meat consumption by just 10 percent would free up enough grain to feed 60 million people.
Greenpeace Senior Legislative Representative Kyle Ash: “The unnecessary torture and abuse of other animals is one of the worst human atrocities of our time. Humanity’s self-aggrandizing misconception that humans rule the world with no moral responsibilities to those with whom we share this planet is reinforced by how we treat other animals, and this ironic view is facilitating destruction of the planet even for ourselves.”
Michael Greger, M.D.: “When we overcrowd thousands of animals into cramped filthy football-field sized sheds to lie beak-to-beak, or snout-to-snout atop their own waste it can present a breeding ground for disease, a perfect storm environment for the emergence of new strains of influenza and other animal-to-human diseases. These so-called factory farms are a public health menace.”
Public health, environmental, and animal welfare movement experts are holding the first National Conference to End Factory Farming: For Health, Environment and Farm Animals in Arlington, Va., on October 27-29. For more information, visit www.factoryfarmingconference.org