American Culture

For everyone’s sake, outlaw factory farming

by Emily West

If you want a more intelligent pet than a dog, try a pig. Pigs learn tricks quickly. They have even figured out video games. Scientists have compared pig intelligence to that of a 3-year-old child.

In factory farms, pigs have been observed going insane and committing cannibalism.

Factory farming should be illegal.

In factory farms, corporations raise thousands of animals in a confined area. Chickens spend their lives in about one square foot of space. Once they reach full size, they die in slaughterhouses that process thousands of animals each day. Factory farmers ignore animal health and welfare in favor of a cheap steak. Around 98 percent of America’s meat comes from factory farms.

Animals suffer in factory farms. Scientists genetically engineer unhealthy animals to produce the most meat. In chickens, this means their breasts and thighs are so large that they can barely stand.
Poor slaughtering technique leads to inhumane killing. For example, if pigs do not lose consciousness after an initial shot with a stun gun, they remain aware when they get dipped in a scalding tank to remove their hair.

In factory farms, animals get sick. Rather than treating them on a case-to-case basis, farmers maintain their stock by feeding all of them antibiotics. Overusing drugs creates breeding grounds for antibiotic-resistant bacteria or “superbugs.” These bugs kill people and could create a worldwide disease outbreak.

Learn where your meat comes from before you eat it. Demand that your government outlaw factory farming. End an inhumane system.

Emily West is a junior majoring in theater and journalism and mass communication at St. Bonaventure University.

photo credit: Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

9 replies »

  1. The meat industry scam is as corrupt as its symbiotic companion – the medicine business. Both have infiltrated the ranks of our 584 lawmakers, supposedly there to protect our interests. The easiest trail to follow is the money – doing so makes it all obvious, and us all sick!

  2. I don’t disagree that factory farming is inhumane. It might be better to argue for better, more humane conditions for the animals that get raised in factory farms (the work of Temple Grandin, for example, serves as a model). It might be better, too, to argue for farming practices that are more environmentally sustainable.

    But to suggest that factory farming just out-and-out be outlawed, without offering no suggestions for an alternative, seems naive. As the post itself points out: 98% of all meat in the U.S. comes from factory farms. If those farms suddenly became illegal, consumers would get meat…how?

    It’s not like other people haven’t tried to answer that question, either. Several organizations have proposed alternatives. How about, at the least, some links to their sites?

    Opinions are fine; solutions are better.

    • You said several organizations have purposed alternative? Which organizations? I’m actually very interested.

  3. I 100% agree and would like to do my part, even just as a lowly consumer to pay a couple bucks more to not support factory farming. But lets be honest, I’m going to the local grocery store. I’m not going to farmer’s markets or buying mail-order unless they make it really easy and somewhat in the same price range. I’m going to Publix or Whole Foods and if everything in both is factory farmed, what the hell am I going to do? Please reply to me or do an add on to this article describing step 2. You know? You got me, great piece, you are correct, now how does the average American that has shit to do go about living a not factory-farm raised meat life? Thanks!

  4. @cwmackowski – at this point, is it more naive to suggest that we need to push for a change or more naive to sit back and wait for a solution? True, our ineffectual leaders won’t legislate change, given meat lobbies, and global demand.

    We have a global population of over 7 billion people. As a species, we’re consuming more meat than ever before. Even if people can’t have sympathy for animals, they should be aware of the problem they’re contributing to. Superbugs and starvation are inevitable on our current track. The change has to come from us. I went vegetarian two years ago after driving past veal farms west of Lubbock. It’s inhumane but it’s also a major threat to our survival.

  5. I just don’t think anyone is going to change a thing if all we do is clamor for change without offering a reasonable alternative. And there ARE alternatives (I mentioned Grandin’s work as one example; there are others). I just wish Emily had taken her post one step further and researched some of those options and then shared them with readers.

  6. There are small farms that produce organic, humanely raised meat. Some of them even slaughter their own meat, which is great, because it takes inhumane or dirty slaughterhouses out of the picture. You can seek out these farms, but as Jeff pointed out, it’s not always convenient.

    My argument, at least until the system changes, is that if you don’t want to go out of your way to get the more ethical option, you shouldn’t eat meat. Not just as a bleeding-heart activist, but because factory-farmed meat is unhealthy. Little regulation goes into keeping it clean, and as I said in the column, it’s full of chemicals. I wish there I could tell you a certain brand to go buy in your grocery store, but right now, that just doesn’t exist.

    As for CMack’s concern, one of the biggest problems right now is that our society has come to expect meat and potatoes on their plates every night, something that just isn’t sustainable in any ethical or environmentally friendly way. You ask how people would get their meat if factory farming became illegal, but I wonder why they need these massive amounts of meat at all. If we outlawed factory farming and returned to small farms with farmers who raised animals ethically, they would produce less meat at a higher price. People would have to eat less meat for any change to happen.

    If you want to read more about both factory farms and small farms in America, I recommend Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.

    Thanks for the constructive comments everybody! I like seeing dialogue about this important issue.

  7. @ Chris. You make a rational case about getting meat without factory farms. However, no one as mentioned as an alternative to not eat meat. This is of course something that is ill received by the vast majority. Yet, I wonder why we all don’t look at the pure hell of these animals lives, and don’t see living being alive for thier own sake. Again, I realize that most of us where not raised to see animals used for food as anything but a long approved process, throughout most of human existance, as expendable lives for our “assumed” needs. I could give my side of why eating flesh from living being is not for humans, poison for humans, massive amounts of extra cholesterol, we definately don’t need. Our own bodies make enough cholesterol, the added amount from dead animals is asking for an early death from heart diease, depression, digestive problems all from eating a food source that we are not designed to eat. Yes, it is a great comeback that I hear often where meat eaters (with a straight face) say “What about the poor plants, don’t they suffer too”? My answer to these concerns is please research the pain and suffering of plants and lets see what the evidence says, until then lets stop the suffering we KNOW is happening to sentient beings. like us. that feel pain, fear, and have a strong sence of death they smell and their own internal feeling.

    I ate meat for most of my life, and I totally understand the “fear” of ending that relationship, however, I have not had any animal flesh for 8 years now, and I never look back. Every year more hemp, lentils, soy, rice, and other sources of protien are coming to the grocery store. One problem is the huge meat industry doing all they can to prevent these items becoming cost effective and seen as a “good” alternative. As a corporation,that these industies are comprised of, I understand their fear of losing their product superior placement in society, of course, I’m against these corporations that destroy our forests, rain forests, (which btw) are the only way we have of processing our carbon dioxide back into oxygen, that I think we can all agree is not a choice, but a absolute necessity for life itself. Water that has becoming so scarce that the U.S. in beginning to import water from Mexico, yes Mexico of all places. Most of us remember and still get sick from much of their water and told not to brush our teeth even with it.

    The amount of illness that these animals acquire from the hellish living conditions are beyond belief and are given massive amounts of anti-biotics to keep them alive long enough to kill them for our “taste buds” which is the primary reason for our desire to hold on to this, even in the face of massive suffering and death on the animals part, and the massive amount of sickness and death due to our ingestion of these dead animals.

    This is not an impossible belief to change, certainly there are enough factors to show this is a bad thing for the animals, the humans that eat them and the planet. The planet issue has been largely ignored as well as the health consequences. However the planet is now showing it is not an “endless” supply of our needs if we use them without responsiblity and take and take and not respect and take great care of all of her resources, which we are not doing and in fact have a “live for the day” mentality, and yet say out the other side of our mouth that we care about our granchildren, that may well be a none issue if we continue to abuse the resources, namely in the name of greed and selfishness, where we all share in this mindset.

    Throughout history doing the right thing, the feeling that tells us inside this is wrong and to do something about as a society has never been easy, because we are asking ourselves to give up something we see as a right and many benefit by, be it free labor, limiting the rights of others (humans) that the right”full” resist giving up their select status and power to the present day of the debate of the wealthy v. all others in America.

    This a major issue that for now is not at the forefront of our thoughts as a society, but given the nature and the knowledge we have of what we are doing by ingesting animal flesh is fatally flawed, we will have to face it sooner or later, assuming we have not made the issue mute by the irreversible ongoing destruction of the planet that sustains us all. -Paul Hester

  8. I hate this subject, because it inevitably devolves into a discussion about vegetarianism. In fact, i’ve come to the conclusion that a large percentage of factory farming blog posts are written precisely to beat the drum of vegetarianism. Being vegetarian is fine, but lets not pretend that it’s environmentally conscious for people who live where there’s winter. And let’s not pretend that it’s cruelty free either, unless we’re ranking pigs above slave-level Mexican laborers.

    Also, while the “organic” label may soothe your conscious, it does so only for people who have no clue about what the word means in terms of labeling … or how much a factory farm can get away with and still label something “organic.” Ya know what “organic” weed control is for the stuff at Whole Foods? A Mexican with a propane weed burner. Finally on this matter, if it’s imported, it’s no longer organic. All fresh produce shipments into the US are fumigated under the same laws that keep you from bringing an apple back from your foreign vacation.

    Now, CFO meat production is disgusting, wrong and unholy. Further, America eats too much meat, and it’s mostly shitty meat. Those farms account for the majority of antibiotic usage in the US, and they’re the destination for a large percentage of our GMO, factory-farmed grain crops.

    The solution, of course, is to eat less meat. Which is easy if you replace your meat intake with honest meat. To the people who want to go to the local grocery and buy real meat, sorry, but that’s unlikely. Agriculture regulations and modern economics make that highly unlikely. In fact, only a select few farmers (who invest in building a regulated kitchen) can slaughter on-site for retail sale.

    Meat farmers have ways around this: you buy the animal (or part of it) while it’s alive rather than as processed meat. But anything above chickens and small ruminants like sheep/lamb are rarely done on-farm. You know how hard it is to kill and dress a cow? Mostly, pigs and cows are sent to a commercial slaughter house, even if the farmer takes them back in halves for on-farm processing.

    These things i know because i have multiple, close friends who raise livestock. Which means that my freezer is full of non-factory farm meat. It also means that i spend a great many summer Sundays killing chickens and making jokes about how the pigs will rise up and drive my friends off the land in order to establish an animal utopia.

    If you who are interested made it this far, start with chicken. That’s the most commonly available small farm meat. You won’t have grocery store convenience, but after seeking out a farmer early in the year you can establish an order. You’ll need to have the ability to hold some chickens frozen, but small farms generally do their chicken crop in batches that are ready every couple of weeks … partly because it’s about eight weeks from chick to slaughter for broilers.

    Same goes for beef and pork, but those definitely require a chest freezer. Find some friends and/or neighbors and split a cow or a pig.

    But get off the grocery store meat grid. It will be easy once you start eating real meat. That shit they sell at the store tastes like, well, shit.