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  • Writer's pictureKaaya Sharma

The appalling secrets behind factory farming

Many small farms are slowly being replaced with large, industrialized factories, leaving animals to be treated as mere commodities living in horrifying conditions, fattened for the slaughter, and receiving far from the humane treatment domesticated animals should be given. Our expectations for the care and treatment of domesticated animals regarding intensive animal farming are far from the horrifying realities.

What is factory farming?

Originally called intensive animal farming, the name factory farming became more popular in order to emphasize the industrial aspect of these farms. This is a form of intensive agriculture, designed to specifically maximize the amount of production, which consequently, also lowers the costs. Oftentimes, they are found raising large numbers of animals for consumption or to harvest their meat, eggs, and milk. They are known to have a primary goal of making profit, even if it undoubtedly comes at the expense of animal welfare.

Factory farming has a lot to do with scale. Unlike a small family-owned farm, factory farms resemble a typical industrial factory, and therefore consist of large numbers of animals in confined areas to maximize the amount of product being produced. This treatment has caused significant controversy and backlash against this system, as oftentimes the animals are raised in inhumane manners. Although some factory farms provide their animals with more humane care and freedom, most of these farms have been guilty of using unnecessary and cruel means to "process" the animals.

How are the animals being treated?

Although not all factory farms are the same and treatment of the animals vary, a vast majority of them have enforced treatment that many would deem brutal, dramatically affecting both the animal’s physical and mental health. Pigs and cattle are confined in crates so compressed that they are not able to turn around, stretch, and in some cases even lie down. Newborn animals are separated from their mothers and put into cages where they receive minimal care and are fighting for their lives on the daily. Hens and chickens are crushed in cages where they are unable to spread their wings and live stress-free. The practice of factory farming causes billions of animals to suffer every year, yet ways to act against this system are still challenged by many individuals.

From an ethical perspective, the inhumane treatment of animals can be considered against our better natures, particularly because domesticated animals are sentient beings with emotions and feelings. This means that they feel pain in a similar regard as humans. According to National Geographic, more than 40% of consumers agree that how we produce food is not on the correct track, with another 20% being uncertain of the practices exhibited in intensive animal farming. This shows that the majority of consumers do believe something is incorrect with the treatment of the animals but haven't been given the adequate resources or education to make a change.

Why should you care?

Although you may not realize it, factory farming not only takes a huge toll on the lives of domesticated animals both physically and psychologically, but it also poses a negative impact on the human population. We can look towards this issue through both an ethical perspective as well as an environmental perspective.

Ethically, we can see that the inhumane treatment of animals is appalling, particularly as

society understands domesticated animals are emotional and known to provide comfort and healing to their owners. They feel pain and animal abuse has been documented and widely released. According to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), “94% of Americans agree that animals raised for food deserve to

live free from abuse and cruelty.” Further, “nearly 10 billion land-based animals, plus

countless more aquatic animals, farmed for food each year in the U.S. live in unacceptable conditions that do not align with consumers’ stated values.”

Secondly, we can see that factory farming has great environmental consequences that directly affect our lives. For one, factory farming plays a vital role in stimulating some of our worst environmental problems. It has been known to cause severe amounts of water pollution, air pollution, and land degradation. This is a result of livestock's digestive system resulting in the release of methane gas and manure. Almost 90 million tons of methane from factory farms are released into the atmosphere yearly, accounting for nearly 40% of methane emissions around the world, rapidly increasing the effects of global warming and causing immediate health effects in humans. On top of this, the EPA states that 70% of all water supply goes into sustaining factory farms, and 75% of all water quality problems are due to leakages of livestock manure into rivers and streams. This can be extremely toxic and damaging to the ecosystems, and it can also result in lethal disease outbreaks due to the profound contamination.

How can you help?

Clearly, our food production system needs reform. The first step is to be educated on the impact factory farming poses on your community. Once you’ve done your research, contact the Congressional Representatives in your area and urge for reforms requesting more plant-based foods be available in supermarkets and grocery stores. Also ask for more transparency from companies on the food production system, particularly on how animal-based foods are being processed. It is also important to advocate for more restrictions and legislation on practices that cause horrendous amounts of environmental damage and disregard an animal's welfare. Finally, opt out of buying products from industrialized companies and begin supporting local and sustainably produced foods.

The current system is leaving billions of animals to suffer daily, allowing for environmental issues to exacerbate, and has even proven to be detrimental to our own health. It is imperative that we strive for reform. Change starts with you!


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