What are factory farms?
In the eyes of the public, factory farms are large intensive operations that raise high amounts of animals for food production. When asked “what is a factory farm?”, a person might respond with examples of a crowded feed lot, pig barn, or chicken operation.
A commonly used practice for some time now, so called “factory farms” have been under much scrutiny as of late. Questions as to whether these practices are ethical and produce a quality product are a major concern for much of the public. However, therein lies a question. Are factory farms only these hated large “unethical” operations?
Factory farms and why they are used
The implementation of factory farming came about as a way to maximize food production. In a factory farm setting, much for food is able to be produced per unit area of operation. This allows not only the farmers to make more profit, but it allowed more food to enter the market place. The fact circling around the agricultural community is that the earth’s population is going to be doubled by 2050. How are we going to feed all of those people? In response, factory farms and the use of bio technology have been embraced and implemented.
How big are factory farm operations?
Here are some interesting factory farming facts I want you to consider. According to Factory Farm Nation, a factory farm only needs to have 500 beef cattle, 500 dairy cows, sell 500,000 chickens annually, or house 100,00 egg-laying chickens. That’s it. That changes the game doesn’t it? How many “free-range” operations do you think fall into one of these categories? I don’t know the exact answer to that question, but I am confident in saying it is more than a few.
What is factory farming’s future?
Are we going to get rid of factory farms all together? Are we going to go back to the small family farm where a variety of animals are raised? Where they all coexist, nutrients, are rotated, and no chemicals what so ever are used?
As beautiful as something like that sounds, I don’t think so. For years now, farms have continued to grow and the number of farmers have continued to dwindle. If we are going to go back to this utopia farming operation, who is going to do all of the work?
From the outside looking in, it is easy to say what you want and what you would like to see. It is a whole different animal to actually get your hands dirty and see it happen. For this food system everyone would like to see, more people are going to have to quit their desk jobs and start farming. Having grown up on a farm I can tell you it is not for everyone. We have had people show up because they wanted to work with us. They didn’t make it past lunch on the first day.
I believe we should never have to comprise the quality of our farming operations, but I also think we need to embrace technology and advanced practices. There will always be those local operations that the media will want to spotlight, but the world won’t be able to be fed by such operations.
Society likes to discredit it, but technology in food has a place in our future.
Technology can involve breeding to produce varieties that are better both in taste and quality than their predecessors. Technology will bring about more advanced and safer pesticides to help efficiencies of farming operations. The key to make this all work is the assurance that companies don’t put profit on a pedestal. Integrity, transparency, and food safety have to rule the day. As consumers, we have to continue to challenge companies and government agencies. We need to ensure that standards are being kept and tests are being ran properly.
If we are able to embrace technology, grow a safe food supply, and feed the world; who wouldn’t want that?
Feature image via BigStock Photo