Factory Farming—The Real Problem

September 14, 2010
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iStock_000014003869XSmallOn August 13, egg producers issued a recall of over half a billion eggs that were contaminated with salmonella. Many brands were involved and it sounded like a national problem.

But it wasn’t: all of those 550 million recalled eggs came from just two farms. This underscores our point above that the safety problem is not in the small farms and operations, which will be so adversely affected by the food safety bills. It will increase the concentration in huge industrial farming CAFOs—Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations—where the sanitary problems are overwhelming. This is a breakdown in existing laws: the Wall Street Journal reported that daily inspections by USDA graders pointed to increasingly unsanitary conditions at one of the egg farms, but the agriculture agency didn’t flag the problems to the FDA.

Nobody is mentioning this, but the FDA, which gets vast new powers under the Food Safety bill, isn’t even fully in charge of animal waste on huge, industrial farms. That falls principally under the Environmental Protection Agency’s purview. Does the EPA have authority to do something about this problem? Yes. Is it doing anything? No.

As a result of the EPA inaction, a group of environmental organizations spearheaded by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) finally sued EPA to do its duty. In a settlement last May, the EPA promised to develop a plan within a year to deal with the problem of animal waste from industrial farming, which is probably the source of the contaminated eggs from the two farms. Don’t be surprised if the EPA doesn’t even meet this promised schedule.

So, if we do get Food Safety legislation this year, politicians will claim they have responded to the huge egg recall, when in fact they aren’t doing anything at all about the underlying problems which caused the egg contamination in the first place.

And what would happen if everyone eventually realizes that the Food Safety bills haven’t solved anything? You can be sure there would be even louder cries for more government action. That is the way it works: the more failures and unintended consequences we get from ill-thought-out government interventions, the more interventions we get.

The real answer is to step back from industrial agriculture by encouraging small producers. This is the exact opposite of what the Food Safety bills do, although the House bill is far, far worse, and represents a dagger aimed at the supplement industry as well as non-industrial farms. Please respond to both of our Senate bill alerts contained in the preceding articles.

13 Responses to “Factory Farming—The Real Problem”

  1. Lisa Beach says:

    The real answer is to step back from industrial agriculture by encouraging small producers.

       1 likes

  2. I must also tell you the buildings are dark and the one day old hens are de-beaked with a hot searing blade and absolutely no pain killers!

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  3. Get rid of factory farms. They are the root of the problem. This would end the problem of contaminated food.

    Millions of innocent chickens are crammed into tiny cages stacked one upon the other so they poop all over the birds below. The chickens that are not in tiny cages wade in excrement all their lives. The chickens often lay eggs with dead carcasses under them and again they are covered with excrement (poop). The buildings cannot be entered unless a person where a suit and mask to protect them from the ammonia. I have seen pictures of a factory farmed chicken in a battery cage compared to the factory farmed chicken they so call organic. They both look horrific with very pale skin, no feathers and drooping heads and necks. The chickens are starved to produce more egg laying.

    The baby hatched roosters are GROUND UP ALIVE FOR DOG FOOD AND OTHER ANIMAL FOOD.

    Factory farms of egg laying hens must go. They are a cruel and horrific practice to sentient beings who express love, joy, sadness, fear, terror and more.

    These hens do not deserve to live like this as no other animal does.

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  4. hank auwerda says:

    Fortunate, I am a Vegan for 40 years now.,Trying to avoid eating animal products would be the best for anybody. Would you still drink your mother’s milk , no, but why then animal milk for crying out . Same goes for eggs. Their are alternatives.

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  5. John says:

    I think, we are the test generations. In this state, we are the subjects of the principles being put in place as systems develop.

    Factory farms produce vast quantities of food which the world population needs. Food availability at a price consumers can pay is a real world problem.

    A means to collect and process animal and other agri waste as well as processing byproducts from say, a slaughter house is easier done large scale then on a small farm. How to put these byproducts to good use is the problem. Can waste products be broken down cheaply so harmful chemicals and hormones are made safe enough to use for fertilizer or fuel? I think so. We need to be able to do it in a way that will pay the producers with benefits to encourage the recycle. Perhaps collecting the waste for free is a way to bring factory farm costs down and the collector/byproduct processor makes his profit when it sells the results back to the farmer as fuel or fertilizer. Perhaps, minerals gleaned by the recycle process could be used to supplement animals too. This supplement better then feeding back directly, lightly processed as ground up organs, meats and bones as we are doing now. The current practice being a suspected cause of spreading Mad Cow disease.

    As our systems develop, bad practices need to be dropped and good practices found.

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  6. Chuck Potter says:

    I am an egg-lover and heard that a pasteurization process is available that could help in the short run. I agree that in the long run we need to encourage more local/smaller egg producers and discourage the mega-farm approach.

    My grandparents were wheat farmers in Canada and my uncle had over 200 hens that produced fresh eggs in his community. Over the years those relatives died and farms were sold in their retirement years for an easier suburb/rural way of life. Local farming is romantic, but in the end without a generation to pass down the trade it is a hard sale to outsiders to keep it local.

    What about community co-ops?

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  7. Ella says:

    A build up of too much nuclear radiation for our immune system to handle CAUSES CANCER! Those egg farms are being allowed to still put their eggs in the food supply by pastrurizing them. Our FDA allows food processors to sneakily “nuke” our food and just put the trusted word pasteurized on the label. If eggs were pasteurized with heat (the trusted way) they would be hard boiled eggs. I eat organic food. We need to start a petition to the FDA and all the lawmakers now before any more of us wonder how we got cancer.

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  8. CJ says:

    Thanks for all the research AFNH. I appreciate your diligence. Just let me know who to email.

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  9. Happy Tonics, Inc. promotes local food. I am a food safety educator. We purchase our eggs from small farmers in Washburn County, Shell Lake, WI. I have seen the Concentrated Annimal Feeding Operations in KS and the sight alone make re realize that I didn’t want to eat any meat, eggs or poultry from these giant unsanitary farms that I witnessed.

    I saw first hand animals standing deep in their own manure. At this point, I started buying local eggs from small farmers. The best advice I can give is “Know your farmer.” Food safety in this country is becoming unsure and it is best to buy locally from your farmer.

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  10. Brenda Ray says:

    I am tired of people not doing their jobs. I see that happening everywhere, not just in government or in the food industry–I mean EVERYWHERE! Everything has just gotten too big: government, business, educational institutions, you name it. What happened to “small is beautiful”? Because it is! All this “bigness” contributes to dehumanizing and to poor communication and poorly thought out “solutions.” Have we forgotten how to look for CAUSES instead of addressing EFFECTS?

    I read this somewhre: A mental hospital had a test to determine who was ready to go home: they put the inmates in a room where a faucet was running into an overflowing sink and gave each one a mop. The ones who mopped the floor they kept. The ones who turned off the faucet they sent home. WHEN WILL WE LEARN TO TURN OFF THE FAUCET???

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  11. nhokkanen says:

    An excellent recent book on CAFO’s and industrial food production is “Animal Factory” by investigative reporter David Kirby. Last week he spoke in Iowa.
    http://animalfactorybook.com/

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  12. Karin Rada says:

    Mega farms should be outlawed! It is unsanitary and inhumane to keep thousands of animals in
    small places. No wonder that we have bird flu, swine flu and Mad Cow disease. Our food supply
    comes from diseased animals!

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    • Denise Porter says:

      My grandparents were farmers & we had a hobby farm raising our own food animals & planting/harvesting approx 40 acres as I grew up.

      This is a complex issue & we may be missing the root of it while targeting the leaves & being manipulated to demand ‘change’ & government ’salvation’ that we’ll later bitterly regret.

      Please be careful not to demonize farmers trying to make a living. So many went out of business as the government intruded more & more with their managing ideas & regulation, boards & bureaucracies that crept further and further beyond the bounds of AIDING farmers ———————–to overtly MANIPULATING farmers & determining the use of their assets———-as special interests formed & grew: spurred on by the increasing recognition of potential self-serving, & self-preserving, gain that could be usurped from free farmers. —-All with the aid & utilization of government influence & fiat.

      When power is centralized it’s easy to take over. Control or influence government & you effectively control all.

      Our current mess is a consequential tangle of blind pride, good intentions gone awry &/or shanghaied, and outright abuse & usurpation of authority that proves the wisdom of our Founders: all men are corruptible & therefore all power must be limited, distributed, checked & balanced —-& held directly accountable to the people through open access to information, to observation by citizens & to the vote. Closed procedings, appointees & bureaucratic regulatory & oversight agencies are anathema to free & just governance.

      Right/ left, government/ business are becoming incidental terms. The underlying conditions & principles are what we need to understand & pay attention to —ignoring the blame, finger-pointing, self-justifications, fake partisonship etc. that are designed largely to purposely distract & divide us while the elite classes & the powerful (increasingly international & bipartisan in nature), along with their toadying dependents —- scratch each others’ backs & maneuver free of truly meaningful interchange, interference, observation or limitations by the American people, or by American Constitutional law.

      In farming communities across this land, so many who loved what they did & who took great pride in their honorable methods of animal & land stewardship have been forced to choose between quitting the land —or to ‘modernizing’ in increasingly narrowed, legalistic & specific ways that compromised their values & artistry in order to meet ’scientific’ gov standards —–while still surviving to make a living under the pretense of a ‘free market’ & private ownership.

      ‘Scientific’ became the great undefined, catch-all justification for any & every right-curtailing power grab. A calling was becoming just a job: being emptied of meaning & value.

      The integrated artistry, creativity & dignity of the farming lifestyle has been picked apart and parceled out in unfulfilling, fragmented & disconnected scraps & bits & pieces by soul-denying materialist men, busily cutting the ground of value & dignity from beneath their own feet! Just as psychology & education was. Materialist men carefully cultivating and being cultivated in turn by humanist schools divorced from Truth (which is carefully & scrupulously ‘walled’ out) and prostituted to the dialectic instead. A lying, enslaving mentality & philosophy alien to all free governance & to the American system in particular.

      I’m not saying that all modernization is good or bad —-or that all religion is good —but that Truth is the necessary determinant for the value of both. And, that Truth—as our Founders clearly declared—is self-evident. Whenever our nation faces a choice or a crossroads —–individual circumstances & individuals need to be honored, respected & considered —and ALL costs & benefits considered ——-alongside Truth —not by pragmatic materialism or dehumanized pantheistic standards that put man on the same determined level as an animal or a thing. (Or at least that puts the dupes & the confused into that category: since the self-annointed & the powerful still hypocritically assume the ability to choose, to act & to direct themselves —-along with the rest of us).

      Centralized materialistic & soul-less management & bureaucratic legalism (whether it labels itself capitalistic or socialistic ) can not, and will not, accomodate individual liberties apart from being required & held accountable to do so by Truth, by Law & by individual citizens acting in awareness of that Truth & Law in freely-chosen, self-limiting lawful unity.

      In farming, as well as other arenas & institutions: ’scientific’ & ‘modern’ became codewords & blinds for unconditional, forced & imperative ‘change’ —with the rule of law & debate suspended in the apparent ‘necessity…

      The result was surrendered rights, & homogenization that lowered the middle class —-while widening the gap & increasing the stratification of class & society. Everything & everyone had to be conformed to the new relativistic & materialist ideals under the positive sounding labels of ‘progress’ —and later ‘evolution’ —-that have served the impatient & the tyrannical so well. Who pauses to consider the END, or he DIRECTION, of this ‘positive’ surrender? As the divide continually widens?

      The biggest money in food production is made in the middle —-by processors. Farmers generally have less margin for failure or risk. –Though everybody’s squeezed these days w/ dozens of fingers in every pie. (And there are so many peripheral industries! Not the least of which, nor the least intrusive or politically active, is the pharmaceutical industry. Which is a mixed bag —to say the least.)

      Many, many lost their family farms because of gov controls, changing tax structures etc over the last 80 years or so—so that farms were bought up by ever larger conglomerates . Now their descendants (who often still love the country way of life) are rarely the free & proud, capable & flexible entrepreneurs that their parents and grandparents were. And not entirely by choice –but largely by circumstance & purposeful manipulation: Consider that most often they are minimally government-educated corporate employees or ‘franchise’ owners…who’ve been subtly shunted away from the mindset of free personal & capable responsibility, on-going growth & creativity under limited government, into a mindset of managed dependence & personal inability apart from expert governmental guidance. —-Though many chafe under the current circumstance: angry, frustrated and unfulfilled while not quite able to put their finger on the REASON for their discontent.

      The ‘franchise’ and business model of farming sometimes attracted a new breed of farmer, too —-one less romantic or attached to animals or land, less integrated & more material in outlook. And just as often, it attracted investors not attached or interested in the actual operation at all, but simply in the profit to be obtained from it.

      Kids that would once have been trained in the proud family farm tradition —-are now ‘trained’ in age-segregated scientific-factory-model vocational schools that exist for the purpose of sustaining & preserving the system: and NOT for the best interests of individuals or communities.

      Point: it’s not just farming that’s affected. Farming is just one affected arena. More and more of us are becoming de facto government system employees, wards & cogs rather than free men & women making our own choices according to our own consciences & particular circumstances. That’s what happens when we live bifurcated, schizophrenic lives, acquiescing to the WALL of separation from the One and the Truth that alone can give meaning to life. We become like things, sheep, commodities…

      We can’t just blame the ‘banks’ either… Local banks have been historically shanghaied by gov mandates & regs also —-so that larger & larger monopolies are formed & depersonalization occurs, more difficulties in institutional accountability arise, and massively increased risk of abuse of power are inevitably built in as a consequence of government involvement. —–Not to mention the establishment of the secretive Fed & increasing international interests. It used to be the bank president might be tempted to abuse power —–but he still had to live among his neighbors which tended to be at least somewhat of a deterrent to gross abuse. Now the ‘president’ is far removed & local bank employee are just employees of a huge, faceless, far-removed concern that could never be held accountable from its great distance with its inpenetrable & massive web in which the buck never stops….

      Back to the farmers, it’s hard to choose between swallowing your pride, & bowing to the system to run a ‘mega-farm’ so as to feed your family—————versus leaving the country way of life entirely for some other ’system’ job in a factory or in the homogenizing, also centralized & government -managed education system. Many try to combine the lives: driving school buses to augment the lagging income & in order to have the insurance that government/insurance regulation has also ‘improved’ and made ‘easier’ for us…).

      You know —those ‘plum’ jobs where they take union dues straight from your paycheck to pay for political action that is against your conscience & your interests —but which is a condition of your employment….

      Freedom.

      I’m sorry to sound so negative —but it is what it is. We must be careful about asking the government to intervene —remember, it was the government that mandated much of the antibiotic usage, that manipulates the market & that creates shortages both purposely & ignorantly/consequentially… for which the ’solution’ is always MORE government intervention…

      We’ve done plenty of damage to ourselves with our neighborhood agreements & regs that keep many from raising foodstuffs in small, sustainable & beneficial ways also. Not to mention, encouraging tax structures & family/social gerrymandering that separate families & generations from one another —and that force mothers out of such nurturing roles as they might choose, if that be their choice & pleasure. Lord knows we could use some wise, professionally full-time managed homes —-and MANY would chose to do just that given the choice & the availability of a family-sustaining opportunity available to their husbands that is also conducive to family participation…such as an honest-to-goodness family-run farm.

      But to promote such a thing —-or even to simply remove the government imposed barriers—-would be politically dangerous for certain protected and artificially created & protected special interests…

      Farmers used to have specialized knowledge & they knew how things worked & what to expect…. Then came the managers and the constantly tweaking politicians seeking to ingratiate themselves & to receive free media rrecognition with their constantly changing ideas & legislation—and great uncertainty & increased risk… No more free choices between country folks & their doctors and so on and so forth… Ever increasing school levies and this levy and that levy…ever shrinking profit margins for those industries not gov protected. The wonder is that more folks didn’t fold & join the real welfare gravy train —the white collar one that puts direct welfare to shame quantitatively.

      The room for negotiation or discretionary ‘income’ & choices has shrank and shrank and shrank until the only ‘freedoms’ left to us not on a gov paycheck seem to be when & how to get laid, get drunk, or what kind of tatoo & piercing one should seek fulfilment/happiness through… Whoop-de-doo. There’s necessarily going to be lessening pride, freedom, personal fulfilment or joy in such circumstances.

      Shoot. Now they want to put GPA trackers on livestock & send out commandoes to make sure you’re not selling raw milk to your neighbors. Job creation programs want to send out ‘certified’ FDA & USDA inspectors to every roadside fruit & egg stand w/guaranteed union government incomes & lifetime benefits ——-thru government controlled education/certification & loan programs—–and they don’t care how many little egg funds or goat milk family mini-timer entrepreneurs supporting their own home production they put out of business or how many food & health choices they take out of free citizens’ hands to do that.

      People who can think for themselves —-know the ways of animals & nature —and who can feed and fend for themselves are a big threat to the self-preservation of big gov, big bus and a variety of special interests. The gay lobby, for one, doesn’t get far with those familiar with animal husbandry & linked closely with the real, non-urban, safely- removed- from- the- ivory- tower world. It’s why their kids have to be reached in preschool & K now —they must be compromised before reality & maturity sinks in.

      We all have ideals —but we live in a real world no matter how far some may carry the delusion of virtual reality and magical, truth-creating personal autonomy. There will have to be trade-off’s & mutually respectful dialogue that recognizes the root of this problem in false ideology and the centralized government management that springs of those false ideologies ———–that then ties itself to the powerful protected monopolies created as the little guys get squeezed out by attempts to force the ‘new reality’.

      We can seek out more Truth and add to, and adjust, the store that we already have: that’s progress.

      But attempting to pretend the truth that we imagine into reality does NOT work & it’s not progressive —-it’s counterproductive: only creating artificial perversity & tyranny. That’s not ‘hate’ or ‘racism’ or ‘defeatism’ or ‘negative thinking’ —it’s just reality and truth. Reality that folks connected to the land —regardless of their skin shade or ideals—–understand to be self-evident, real, and modifiable within limits & wise stewardship for good or for bad —-but never perfectly predictable or absolutely guaranteed & without risk.

      We have to educate ourselves, take back parental & local control of education, support local & free media sources & networks, and fight to return our government (and the false ‘industry’ perversions it has created) to their proper limits & separate spheres.

      Part of that is not listening to pop ’science’ —but getting a sound scientific footing about the causes & reality/or lack of reality –from actual readings of science proclaimed as though they were ‘neutral’ and not filtered through someone’s political or religious/philosophical worldview. They NEVER are. Bird flu & swine flu were vastly inflated & used to engender fear & to promote gov/big pharma —-and global warming is the scientific hoax of the ages. We have the internet and can instantly research any source or claim to get ‘both sides’ of any story. Let’s use that gift & power wisely —and cautiously.

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