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Senior Advisor

Factory Farms Of The Future

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sonia-faruqi/factory-farms-of-the-futu_b_4414579.html

 

"In recent years, several writers have offered Orwellian predictions about the future of animal agriculture.

"In the future, there will be a new large scale type of commercial agriculture," predicts livestock scientist Temple Grandin. "During the next decade or two, billions of animals will live and die in factory farms," states philosopher Peter Singer. "I do not think factory farming is going away," says food industry writer Marion Nestle. "Our vast factory farms are the future," writes speechwriter Matthew Scully."

 

I like the use of the term Orwellian.  It appeals to the intellectual emotion.

 

"The farms of the past resembled the scenes in the poem--pastoral, picturesque. The farms of today are, in contrast, large and industrial. Animals have moved definitively from the outdoors to the indoors. Artificial light has replaced sunlight, and exhaust fans have replaced windows. Concrete floors have succeeded grass ranges, and metal doors have supplanted fence gates."

 

""The United States now has more prison inmates than full-time farmers," wrote Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation.

Fifty years ago, animals were fed and tended by people; today, these tasks are performed by machine and phone."

 

I remember when prisons had farms to give the inmates something to do and raise their own food.  Do they do that any more?

 

As the writer says, there is more to come.  I suspect the only answer is to import all our food.  After all, 2% of imported food is inspected.  That should be reassuring.

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29 Replies
Honored Advisor

Re: Factory Farms Of The Future

Jim, one important facet to this issue is regulation. The vast amount of documentation for compliance with first environmental, then animal welfare, movements, virtually invites all smaller producers to leave animal agriculture. Now, even produce production is heading in this direction, via the Food Safety Modernuzation Act.

The end result is hard to predict. This is, after all, the perfect storm predicted in ""The Death of Common Sense". When we try to write laws and regulations to govern every type of human endeavor, eventually the threats of fines or worse make a person with half a brain decide that farming is no longer worth the risk.

Also, animals and plants raised in the open air on the ground face a multitude of variables that those confined to buildings do not. Either we want yo take our chances or we don't...and current regulatory structure and strictures dictate as vontrolled a production environment as can be afforded, and then some.

Orwell is a good one to cite on this thread. Glad I am pushing sixty....
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Honored Advisor

Re: Factory Farms Of The Future

Well I think there should be some regulations on the humane treatment of livestock.  If you have what we call a "factory farm" there`s a tunover of employees, in cases the bottom of the barrel in skills, just taking the only job that they can get.  Animal humane treatment isn`t even on their radar. 

 

The livestock industry can either get in front of this or try to "beat up the consumer`s fist with their own face". 

 

It used to be there was "county homes" for hardup clowns.  They could do what ever work that they were able, they milked cows, had gardens and doing that work was the therapy that many of them needed.  I believe they were almost self sufficient in some cases.  But in the infinite "wisdom" of the liberals, they shut them homes down and put the hardup clowns in public housing, send `em a gov`t check and if they could work send `em to a ridiculous "make work" program like sorting recycle cans.  But I supose "liability" was part of it too, if one of them got hurt working, they could sue the pants off the county.   It`s like they say "If there`s 1 lawyer in town he starves, if there`s 2 lawyers in town they get rich".

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Honored Advisor

Re: Factory Farms Of The Future

Well, you obviously are unaware of the copious animal welfare protocols of companies like our integrator. Also, so you know...many animals belonging to corporations are actually raised by contract growers like our family. I have worked in hogs all my life, Mike nearly as long, and our daughter is our farm manager, with one hired man under her direct supervision.

We have a contractual obligation to report any questionable conditions or behavior we might note that could have an impact on animal welfare. I have just spent part of this morning doing precisely that, directly to the company vet. It will be addressed.

This set of rules boils down to how many panels are supposed to be in place on a weaned pig truck at what ambient temperature, at the company compliance level.

Other standards are covered completely by the industry's PQA Plus certification training, which our farm has completed, and been audited under. If nothing else, if a person in the modern hog industry commits some abuse or neglect, they can no longer say they didn't know any better....
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Re: Factory Farms Of The Future

A couple of principles to consider.

 

Large scale operations deserve a higher level of regulation- it is appropriate to regulate the waste stream of a car plant more carefully than the local repair shop due to the greater potential for harm. That doesn't mean the repair shop can pour waste oil down the sewer.

 

If the market wants scale, fine. But don't subsidize it and make sure it pays all the external costs associated with it.

 

The consumer ultimately decides. BST created the big opening for organic milk.

 

An alternative food system can provide opportunites for families to farm, particularly if we quit subsidizing industrial agriculture. And yes, some of the demand stems from objections to industrial methods.

 

 

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Honored Advisor

Re: Factory Farms Of The Future

Well Kay, there are those that don`t need are rule book to follow, because they are naturally compassionate towards animals. 

 

Then there are those that want to find out where the boundary lines are and finagle ways around so that it doesn`t cut into their bottomline .

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2010/09/timeline-of-shame-decades-of-decoster-egg-factory-... 

 

http://www.mfablog.org/2013/07/pbs-documentary-exposes-sexual-abuse-of-factory-farm-workers.html

 

 

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/national/tyson-foods-ends-contract-pig-farm-over-abuse-vide/nb3k5/ 

 

Some view fines as "just the cost of doing business".

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Honored Advisor

Re: Factory Farms Of The Future

To be honest, we had serious reservations for many years about the grasp of the basic premise of animal agriculture, which is expressed well in the book " Covenant of the Wild", by Stephen Budiansky. In our simplistic view, that eloquent explanation can be synopsized as "If you take care of them, they will support you."

It was taken a while, driven by the pressure of large consumers whose customers demanded it, but the protocols are catching up to our standards. I cannot speak for all hog producers, just for my family and our farm.

There isn't a gray area in our minds, and you have no idea how much we have advocated for the animals in our care over the years, and how much we still do. Please do not tar us with someone else's brush....
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Honored Advisor

Re: Factory Farms Of The Future

Kay, I`m sorry you if  thought I was lumping "larger pork producers" into the same group of bad actors, that`s not what I`m saying at all.   It`s just that there is alot of denial going on, there are bad actors and that is not debateable and you good guys should throw them to the wolves.  Because they have been riding on your coat-tails and will pull all you heads underwater in a vain attempt to save themselves.

 

A wrong move that I believe was made was making a law against a employee video taping what goes on inside a CAFO.  They don`t care if they get fined, they don`t care if the go to jail they probably want that, it will bring more attention to their cause.  But like every other business, things have changed.

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Honored Advisor

Re: Factory Farms Of The Future

I do not think anyone should be allowed to take images from inside private property to the public.  Not that we are ashamed of what we do...I just think it is not right to invade our private property in this manner. 

 

I have taken the SD card out of a person's camera, and refused to return it until it could be read and wiped by me.  I told the person it was either that, or give me the camera. 

 

I feel this strongly about my family's privacy.  I would do it if they were in my yard, taking pictures of my home, or in the backyard, taking uninvited photos of my grandchild at play.  Period. 

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Veteran Advisor

Re: Factory Farms Of The Future

The phrase  bio- security seems the latest word smithing innuendo - interesting tactic ---    

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