WASHINGTON - JULY 24 - America’s rural communities from coast to coast are living with the human health and environmental costs of factory farms that cram together hundreds of thousands of animals in filthy conditions, said Food & Water Watch today. The organization released a first-ever national map charting factory farms to illustrate how these facilities are concentrated in some regions of the country.
"People working in these animal factories or those living nearby often suffer intensely from the odors and experience a range of negative physical effects," said Food & Water Watch Assistant Director Wenonah Hauter. "People thousands of miles away from factory farms are not immune to their impacts. Consumers eating the dairy, egg, and meat products produced there are faced with the consequences of antibiotic and artificial hormone use and other food safety problems."
"Factory farms create serious human health and environmental risks the communities where they locate," said Bob Lawrence, Johns Hopkins University professor and director of the Center for a Livable Future. "The millions of gallons of manure with the toxic chemicals they emit harm human health and cause hazardous air and water pollution.”
The Food & Water Watch factory farm map (www.factoryfarmmap.org) illustrates that confined animal feeding operations, the dominant form of livestock production in the United States, also known as CAFOs or factory farms, are found throughout the country. But some regions host a comparatively large share of intensive animal production – Iowa and North Carolina for hogs, California and Idaho for dairy cows, Texas and Kansas for cattle feedlots, Georgia and Alabama for broiler chickens, and Iowa and Ohio for egg production.
Food & Water Watch released a companion report, Turning Farms into Factories, that explains the forces driving factory farms, as well as the environmental, public health, and economic consequences of this type of animal production.
"As industrial animal operations spread, they drive more family farmers out of business," said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Patty Lovera. "Factory farming must end, and Congress and regulatory agencies need to make certain that food is produced in a sustainable way that does not harm people and the environment."
How factory farms affect all U.S. consumers:
About 55 to 65 percent of corn and 40 to 50 percent of soybeans grown in the United States are converted to feed for the livestock industry.
Federal farm payments to corn and soybean producers actually benefit factory farm operations. If livestock producers actually had to buy feed at the cost of production, their overall costs would increase by 7 to 10 percent.
Industrial dairies can use more than 150 gallons of water per cow per day.
Each dairy cow produces 120 pounds of wet manure a day.
Seventy percent of all antimicrobials used in the United States are fed to livestock. This accounts for 25 million pounds of antibiotics annually, more than 8 times the amount used to treat disease in humans.
An estimated two-thirds of all U.S. cattle raised for slaughter are injected with growth hormones.
Approximately 22 percent of all dairy cows in the United States are injected with the hormone, but 54 percent of large herds (500 animals or more), such as those found on factory farms, use rBGH.
"FactoryFarmMap.org will aid citizens and organizations resisting the siting or growth of factory farms in their communities," said Hauter.
Food & Water Watch recommendations to address the impact of factory farms on the environment, public health, food safety, and rural communities include the following:
The Environmental Protection Agency should establish a moratorium on the construction of new CAFOs and on the expansion of existing facilities;
Congress should not exempt the hazardous substances contained in manure from environmental rules such as Superfund;
Congress should reform federal farm policy to stop encouraging overproduction of corn, soybeans, and other commodities that have resulted in cheap feed for animals in CAFOs;
Consumers should vote with their dollars by purchasing meat produced in a more sustainable way. They can learn how at www.eatwellguide.org.
The Food & Water Watch map is available at www.factoryfarmmap.org
There will be a national webcast and conference call on July 24th at 2 p.m. EST. Call for login information.
# # #