Deconstructing Animal Exploitation In The U.S., One Study At A Time
The Economic Transition Team arm of the Humane Party was initiated in December 2016 and was established with one primary mission in mind:
The mission of the Economic Transition Team (ETT) is to end 100% the exploitation of all animals within the United States and its economy.
To reach this goal, the ETT wishes to complete reports on every sector of the U.S. economy related to agriculture, the environment, natural resources, rural economic development, education, employment, financial services, health care, national security, law enforcement, transportation, science, and technology. Furthermore, the entity wishes to become, in part, a vegan, abolitionist think tank that both highlights issues and enables the transition of all relevant industries from exploitation-centric to exploitation-free.
It’s a daunting task in a country that was founded on exploitation and remains tied to cultural nostalgia. However, little by little, data point by data point, and report by report, we’ve begun to whittle away the fabric of an archaic and unjust economic system.
In this post, we summarize five research reports published by the Humane Party’s Economic Transition Team to date.
Our work began with “Animal-based Agriculture vs. Plant-based Agriculture: A multi-product data comparison.” The 27-page report analyzed animal and plant products from the perspectives of land use, yield, income, expenses, and profitability. Using U.S. Department of Agriculture and Colleges of Agriculture data sets, we were able to make correlations that have never been compared before.
For example, we revealed that, even though plant-based farming uses 69% of the total land mass used for animal-based agriculture in the U.S., plant-based agriculture generates 512% more pounds of product. On a per-acre basis, plant-based agriculture produces 14,000 more pounds than animal-based agriculture.
We also found that plant-based agriculture is more profitable than animal-based agriculture, on average, by a factor of 1.44%. Since these industries are generating hundreds of billions of dollars in sales/value, and often run on slim margins, a factor of 1.44% is significant and noteworthy.
Based on this, we believe there is sufficient evidence to support the claim that plant-based agriculture in the U.S. can produce far more product at a lower cost for both the farmer and the final consumer.
In another report, titled “Key Business Ratio comparison, animal-based industry vs. plant-based industry,” we presented a financial comparison between animal-based agriculture industries and plant-based agriculture industries. Key Business Ratios provide an overview of the efficiency, solvency, and profitability of publicly owned companies within an sector. A total of six plant-based industries and nine animal-based industries – all publicly owned and encompassing a relevant market share within their sector – were used in our comparison.
Ultimately, plant-based industries enjoyed a more favorable position in return on sales than animal-based industries by a factor of 0.39%. Plant-based industries also ranked higher in return on assets by a factor of 0.98%. The differences may appear small but, depending on the revenues generated, they can represent millions of dollars.
Finally, plant-based industries had better capital management, or return on net worth, by a factor of 2.46%. This ratio measures how many dollars of profit are generated for each dollar of shareholders’ equity. The ratio shows that plant-based industries generate more profit for every dollar invested by the shareholders than animal-based industries.
Turning to animals used in science, we published a report entitled “Analysis of the USDA Annual Report (2015) of Animal Usage by Research Facility.” The USDA report was broken down by Pain and Distress categories, and our analysis provided several insights into the abuse and exploitation of laboratory animals, as well as detailed information on the number of animals used per state and category. Additionally, the report explored governing policies regarding pain and distress, and further analyzed the correlation between the number of animals bred and kept in captivity for research purposes, as well as the total number of animals used in research in the U.S.
Our fourth report, titled “Distribution of Animals Used for Agriculture and Manure Generated: Ratio of Manure to Land Application,” sought to understand the daily generation of animal manure due to animal agriculture, and its implications. We looked at the recommended rates of manure application to farmlands, along with each state’s total land and farming-allocated land, to evaluate whether the amount of manure generated per state is insufficient, sufficient, or excessive to meet fertilization needs.
After reviewing the data for the entirety of the U.S., we concluded that the number of animals being farmed generates an amount of manure that exceeds — by alarming rates — the fertilization needs of crop and grazing land. Every state exceeds the recommended amount of manure that can be safely applied to their farmlands with locally generated manure. The animal farming system of the U.S. generates enough manure annually to cover the entire extension of the continental U.S. 72 times with the recommended annual amount.
Even though the report centered around the manure generated by animals being farmed, manure is only a symptom of the real problem. The underlying problem is the number of animals being farmed for human consumption, which is generating waste that cannot be effectively used or safely removed.
Our most recent report, “United States Live Animal Trade: Analysis of Imports, Exports, Numbers and Values,” sought to gather (for the first time in one place) the vast U.S. live animal trade industry data. It highlighted the number of animals of all species who are both exported from and imported to the U.S. It also documented the more than $3.5 billion industry and drew attention to the countries where this trade is occurring. Furthermore, the report noted differences in transportation times, methods, and effects on the welfare of traded animals.
After reviewing all sources of data, we concluded that the United States is one of the leading countries in the world when it comes to the live animal trade industry. In total, the industry exceeded $3.544 billion and ‘traded’ approximately 119,070,845 animals in 2016. In many cases, the U.S. exported the same animals they imported, resulting in unnecessary trade of individual species.
In looking at the live-animal trade industry in the U.S., we need to keep in mind that it’s not merely about the value generated with numbers of animals moved. It’s the exploitation of the lives of individual animals － sentient beings. The route can be long, stressful, and perilous for them. The animals, whether imported or exported, are subjected to deprivation of rest, water, food, and space, and they are exposed to unsanitary and otherwise hazardous conditions at every turn. They can experience high mortality rates due to adverse weather and extreme high and low temperatures.
As it is with the live-animal trade industry, so it is with other industries as well. Behind all of our reports, which take a broad view of animal industries and economics, there are many millions of animals who experience their suffering on an individual basis. It’s a lot to carry, but we take it seriously.
And we continue.
Our role within the Humane Party is to give political representation to those who have never been represented, and we seek to do so through a combination of science, ethics, and research. We are passionate in our mission to end animal agriculture and all forms of animal exploitation in the U.S. We always seek to dig deeper, to peel back the layers of all the suffering that occurs. By exposing all industries, and the economics that underlie them, we leave no stone unturned in our search to bring about justice.