As human populations grow toward a record 10 billion around the year 2050, a need to develop new food resources has become a top priority. One of the methods developed to meet this need is the factory farm.
Factory farming follows the same processes as family farming with one key difference: factory farms produce food products on a much larger scale. To do this, equipment, processes, and space come together to offer job opportunities to the local community while creating a necessary food resource.
These are the pros and cons of factory farming to think about and discuss.
List of the Pros of Factory Farming
1. Any viable land resource can be used.
Factory farming can be established in virtually any location, assuming that there is viable land for the activities. Farms might grow crops, develop livestock, or a combination of the two. This makes it possible for us to use lands that are not under development right now to produce the food products we’ll need in the future.
2. It can reduce the costs of food.
When food products are produced on a mass scale, then they become cheaper to the general public. The presence of a factory farm may create some environmental challenges for some communities, but its pricing schemes may offer enough benefits to offset any concerns that people may have.
3. More food makes it to the market faster.
Chickens have doubled in weight since factory farming became a priority in the United States. At the same time, the number of days required to bring a chicken to the market has been nearly cut in half. Although this increases the fat content in some protein options, it also means that more food is available for consumption.
4. It can produce food throughout the year.
Family farms tend to be seasonal food providers, with the exception of dairy farming. Small farms harvest their crops, bring their livestock in when it matures each year, and bases its income off of these annual purchases. Factory farms can produce food products throughout the year. With their size and resources, they can rotate crops, offer livestock throughout the year, and utilize different farming methods to create a stable food chain for communities.
List of the Cons of Factory Farming
1. It changes the nutritional content of our food.
Factory farming might offer more food, but it also offers a question about how healthy that food happens to be. The fat content of some foods has increased by more than 200% since the advent of factory farms. There are also questions about the quality of fruits and vegetables that are sent to market, since herbicides, pesticides, and sealants are used to keep foods fresh.
2. Disease is a major issue at factory farms.
We must also consider the negative aspects of disease development in animal populations with factory farming. Many animals are kept in confined circumstances on these farms, even when treated without cruelty, which increases the chance of disease development. Strains of bird and swine influenza have caused fatalities in human populations since 2009. Think about how fast kids can get sick when they go to school and that’s what happens when animals are brought together on factory farms.
3. Animal life is sacrificed for profits.
Eating animal proteins is a way of life for many humans. To generate more profits, factory farms have been found to keep animals in cages that limit movement. They’ve given animals food that is questionable in its quality. When the priority is the animal as a commodity instead of a living thing, workers can begin to treat them in cruel ways as well. There are many factory farms who operate ethical, practical facilities with a quality beyond question. The quest for profits, however, can also cause good facilities to go bad quickly.
4. These farms contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2017, a letter signed by about 200 experts in animal welfare and human nutrition urged the World Health Organization to take a closer look at factory farming. Livestock farming production accounts for over 14% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. In the United States, beef production on its own accounts for 1.9% of emissions. In total, about 7.1 gigatons of carbon dioxide are released because of farming activities. In comparison, 25% of emissions come from transportation needs.
These factory farming pros and cons demonstrate a need for responsible food creation. By limiting the impact on the environment, we can use these processes to feed a growing population while helping to preserve our planet at the same time.