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Factory Farms Expanding as Cruel, Unsustainable Industrial Agriculture Dominates the U.S. Food System

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Factory Farms Expanding as Cruel, Unsustainable Industrial Agriculture Dominates the U.S. Food System

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For egg-laying hens, the number is a staggering 100,000 animals, depending on the type of facility. When it comes to chickens raised for meat, there are at least 125,000 birds in one large CAFO. 

Still, some farms far exceed the minimum number of animals. Recent outbreaks of bird flu are a heartbreaking reminder, as some operations with more than one million birds have culled the animals en masse due to the fatal disease. While wild birds have been blamed for the presence of bird flu on poultry farms, it is because of the scale of these intensive farms that so many chickens are in one facility in the first place. It is factory farming that leads to the mass killing of so many animals when just one case of bird flu is detected.

The new USDA census reveals that small farms on less than 10 acres of land account for the biggest decline over the past five years. Large-scale farms make up only four percent of the nation’s farms but “control two-thirds of U.S. agricultural land,” reports The Guardian, which also notes that the number of Black farmers — “forced out of agriculture by decades of discriminatory USDA policies” — has decreased by eight percent since 2017.

The U.S. has seen a 34 percent decline in dairy farms and a 9 percent and 7 percent drop, respectively, for pig farms and those raising cattle for beef, reports The Guardian. Yet, “the livestock numbers stayed more or less constant. That means fewer, but much larger, concentrated lots — which are linked to an array of harms including water and air pollution, poor animal welfare, labor abuses and climate impacts.”

Factory farming serves almost no one. While multibillion-dollar corporations profit, animals, workers, communities, and our environment pay the price.

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