Industrial Farm Animal Production In America
According to this Pew Commission report, Industrial Farm Animal Production (IFAP), also known by many as “factory farming,” takes an enormous toll on human health and the environment as it undermines rural America’s economic stability and fails to provide humane treatment for animals raised for food.
Historic developments and the current context of industrial farm animal production (IFAP) are presented in this report, beginning with a look at intensive animal production in the 1930s using mechanized swine slaughterhouses. However, over the last 50 years, animal agriculture has experienced “warp speed” growth, with the availability of high-yield and inexpensive grains fueling the increase.
Now, the widespread use of IFAP facilities has made animal-derived food products relatively inexpensive, although the growth of factory farms has brought with it greater concerns for public health, the environment, animal welfare, and the impact on rural communities.
With industrial farming, there are greater risks in the following areas:
- Public health, through pathogen transfer, infectious disease, food-borne infection, the generation of novel viruses, feed and pathogen risk, and non-therapeutic antimicrobial use and resistance.
- Environmental, through nutrient and chemical contaminants in the water, water stress, and greenhouse gases and other air pollutants.
- Animal Welfare, and issues related to the “five freedoms” that describe minimal animal welfare standards in farming, research, etc.
- Rural life, including rural social capital.
Major commission recommendations include:
- Requiring stronger reporting for companies
- A phaseout and ban on antibiotics in farm animals, except for treatment of disease
- Tighter regulation of factory farm waste
- A 10-year phaseout of intensive confinement systems, including gestation crates and battery cages
- A national tracking system to allow the tracing of diseased animals within 48 hours of a human outbreak of food-borne disease
- An end to the force-feeding of poultry to produce foie gras