Who Hijacked Our Country

Monday, August 13, 2007

Is There a Factory Farm Near You?

You probably know about factory farms: those “farms” where hundreds or even thousands of animals are jammed into cages where they don’t even have room to move. Without going into too many gory details — how the animals are literally wallowing in their own shit and are fed mostly chemicals and diseased meat — here are a few links worth checking out.

What you probably don’t know is how prevalent these factory farms are. Most people tend to think there aren't that many of them and/or that they're all located in some desolate God-forsaken region where nobody has any teeth and everybody has two first names.

This online map will show you differently. They're everywhere, and there are probably several of them near you. This site has some very informative links that are full of nauseating but necessary information. (Click where it says "Learn More").

The e-mail where I got this map also has a re-printed New York Times editorial (not available online unless you subscribe to the NYT). The editorial says in part:

“Once upon a time, only a decade or so, it wasn't hard to know where factory hog farms were because they were nearly all in North Carolina. But since those days, the practice of crowding together huge concentrations of animals in the interests of supposed efficiency has spread around the country. Wherever it appears, factory farming has two notable effects. It threatens the environment, because of huge concentrations of animal manure. And it threatens local political control. Residents who want a say over whether and where factory farms, whose stench can be overwhelming, can be built find their voices drowned out by the industry's cash and lobbying clout.”

The editorial concludes with: “It raises two of the fundamental questions facing American agriculture. Do we pursue the logic of industrialism to its limits in a biological landscape? And how badly will doing so harm the landscape, the people who live in it and the democracy with which they govern themselves?”



Blogger Candace said...

Oh geez, Tom, now I'm going to have to go click on these links... because the last time you posted something like this, I wimped out. My conscience won't let me skip by this time. Uh, thanks.

August 14, 2007 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger Larry said...

In Colorado they have large sheep lots of the same nature.

In Indiana they have large hog barns with the hogs confined and practically stacked on top of each other.

This seems to be the growing thing of Corporate farming, and it isn't good for the American farmer, or the consumer.

August 14, 2007 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Candace: Thanks for checking it out. It sucks to learn new sickening information, but it's still better to know.

Larry: You're right, it's not good for farmers or consumers. It also sucks for the animals. I'm not a vegetarian or anything, but there's no reason that farm animals can't be treated humanely while they're alive.

August 14, 2007 at 12:23 PM  
Anonymous kip152 said...

Damn, I had no idea. Well, I've been thinking of going vegan...

August 14, 2007 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

"Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schlosser is REQUIRED reading. Lefties and rightwingers alike should be outraged by that book. I now hesitate to eat fast food meats due to how the animals are raised and housed. Outfits like Hormel and ConAgra buy up ranches, and let the original owners stay on to manage the places but under strict company procedures which lead to unhealthy situations, in the quest for the almight dollar of course. Large slaughter operations are manned by workers who stay in their jobs for an average of four months or so and who often know little English, leading to a high turnover rate and unsafe working conditions. Animals are often housed in tiny spaces rife with their own refuse, sometimes next to or on top of dead others. The number of food inspectors and inspections is being decreased by the federal government.

I think things will get worse before they get better. I think it is time for meat-eaters to buy freezers if we don't have them already, and buy meat from people who raise animals independently under conditions that are not aqualid and inhumane and under which the animals are not fed other animals or given growth hormones.

August 14, 2007 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger PoliShifter said...

It's a real problem.

Unfortunately solving it is even more complicated that solving our dependence on foreign oil or the war on terror.

Ideally it would be nice if we could go back to locally based farms and get our food fresh.

Ideally it would be nice if we had some free range laws, treated animals humanely, didn't pump them full of drugs and antibiotics,and limited the number of animals that could reside on an acre, but all this flies in the face of the corporations.

There is some small change going on with more people supporting local farmers and demanding organic products.

We can only hope the trend continues.

August 14, 2007 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Kip152: Yeah, vegan might be the answer. When I eat a dead animal it's usually fish. When I buy poultry or red meat I try to buy from a health food store, or some smaller market where I know the animal didn't come from a factory farm.

Snave: Yeah, these large companies just keep buying up family farms and adding them to their meat factories. I've heard all sorts of stories about the working conditions at those places. The workers, the animals, the environment -- everybody loses (except for a few agribusiness executives).

These organizations have too much clout to be controlled or regulated. The only way they can be impacted is for people to start watching their diets and not patronizing factory farms.

PoliShifter: You're right; I don't think this can be solved. I think the only solution is for more people to patronize local and/or smaller farms where the animals were raised humanely. These factory farms can't be regulated but they also can't force consumers to patronize them.

August 14, 2007 at 3:58 PM  
Blogger LET'S TALK said...

tom harper, I need that Big Mac, when I need it or that two piece Chicken snack to consume and get right back to work.
Just kidding, but that is what America is about and we, including myself had no ideal this type of thing had gotten this bad tom.

You make one look further into and find some disgusting things out there and we are the looser because we consume this mess.

August 14, 2007 at 6:38 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Let's Talk: It's true, fast food is everywhere. We're addicted to the convenience and the grease. You're right, everybody loses with this arrangement.

August 14, 2007 at 11:22 PM  
Blogger Lizzy said...

Thanks for posting that, Tom. As a longtime animal rights activist and vegetarian, this kind of information needs to be out there.

My advice is to stop eating meat, but if you must, only buy food from/support restaurants that provide meat from organic family farmers.

August 15, 2007 at 9:06 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Lizzy: That's exactly right. Those factory farms have too much clout to be regulated, but if enough people follow your advice, factory farming won't be as lucrative and fewer animals will suffer (and people will be healthier).

August 15, 2007 at 10:39 AM  

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