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Factory Farm Nation: Map Charts Unprecedented Growth in Factory Farming

Food & Water Watch Analysis Finds Livestock on Factory Farms Grew by 20 Percent in 5 Years

WASHINGTON - Food & Water Watch today unveiled the newest version of its
pioneering Factory Farm Map ( that charts the
concentration of factory farms across the country and the impacts these
massive operations have on human health, communities, and the
environment. The interactive map illustrates the geographic shift in
where and how food is raised in the U.S. and allows anyone to quickly
search for the highest concentration of animals by region, state and

Food & Water Watch analyzed U.S. Department of Agriculture Census
data from 1997, 2002 and the most current census, 2007, for beef and
dairy cattle, hogs, broiler meat chickens and egg-laying operations, and
found the total number of livestock on the largest factory farms rose
by more than 20 percent between 2002 and 2007—while the number of dairy
cows and broiler chickens nearly doubled during the same time, making
them the fastest-growing population of factory farmed animals.

Despite the fact that the number of livestock farms across the
country has decreased, the Food & Water Watch Factory Farm Map
illustrates that big farms are getting bigger, with specific regions and
states bearing the brunt of intensive animal production.

“While more and more light is being shed on the ways our food system
is broken and consumers are increasingly interested in knowing where
their food comes from, there is still a lot of information that’s hidden
from public view,” said Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch’s
executive director. “The purpose of the Factory Farm Map is to provide
an easy-to-use tool that anyone can access to learn more about where our
food is really coming from.”

Key findings in Food & Water Watch’s analysis and map show:

  • In five years, total animals on factory farms grew by 5 million, or more than 20 percent.
    • Cows on factory dairy farms nearly doubled from 2.5 million cows in
      1997 to 4.9 million in 2007. Factory dairy farms growth in western
      states like Idaho, California, New Mexico and Texas shifted the dairy
      industry away from traditional states like Wisconsin, New York and
    • Beef cattle on industrial feedlots rose 17 percent from 2002 to 2007
      – adding about 1,100 beef cattle to feedlots every day for five years.
    • Nationally, about 5,000 hogs were added to factory farms every day for the past decade.
    • The growth of industrial broiler chicken production added 5,800 chickens every hour over the past decade.
    • Egg laying hens on factory farms increased by one-quarter over the decade.
  • The average size of factory farms increased by 9 percent in five years, cramming more animals into each operation.
    • In 2007, the average factory-farmed dairy held nearly 1,500 cows and the average beef feedlot held 3,800 beef cattle.
    • The average size of hog factory farms increased by 42 percent over a decade.
    • Five states with the largest broiler chicken operations average more than 200,000 birds per factory farm.
    • Over a decade, average-sized layer chicken operations have grown by 53.7 percent to 614,000 in 2007.

Food & Water Watch released a companion report, Factory Farm
Nation, which explains the forces driving factory farms, as well as the
environmental, public health, and economic consequences of this type of
animal production. The report also examines the causes for
industrial-scale livestock and the demise of small and medium farms.

“This map shows the extent to which factory farms have taken over
farming and our communities,” said Robby Kenner, director of the Academy
Award-nominated film Food, Inc. “Through the Factory Farm Map, Food
& Water Watch is shining a spotlight on the mega-corporations that
need to be held accountable for the damage they’re doing to our health,
environment and rural economies.”

In addition to the map itself, the website ranks the top
concentrations of factory farmed livestock nationwide as well as by
state and county. It features a newsfeed for monitoring local and
national factory farm news and social media tools that allow users to
share the map and its data via Facebook, Twitter, email and RSS feed.
The Factory Farm Map website includes a widget that bloggers and other
websites can embed on their sites and a variety of other online tools
for activists to spread the word and encourage local, regional or
national action.

“Whether you live near a factory farm and are subject to the
groundwater contamination or air pollution it causes, or live thousands
of miles away and eat the meat or eggs from potentially unsafe
facilities, very few people are spared the risk that these operations
bring,” said Hauter. “The Factory Farm Map arms consumers with critical
information about how our food is being produced and what we need to do
to chart a course to a more sustainable food system.”

The Factory Farm Map and the companion report can be found at


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Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

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