Saturday, May 28, 2011

Factory Farms and CAFOs

Critics of the food industry refer to commercial food making facilities as factory farms.  That term has certainly crept into common usage.  The industry -- government regulators included -- dislikes this expression and categorizes farms by size.  The overall term is AFO, or Animal Feeding Operation, a subset of which are CAFOs, or Confined Animal Feeding Operations.  I recommend the wikipedia sites: AFOCAFO, and Factory Farming.

Government regulation can be under the Environmental Protection Act (Clean Air and Clean Water), through local zoning laws, and by way of suits brought by neighbors.  It is immediately apparent that large farms are regulated more than small farms -- somewhat contrary to my argument in the previous blog.  Nevertheless, large farms dominate the market.  It may be that "organic" farms and other operations seeking to distinguish themselves from factory farms, are careful to stay under the size that attracts regulation.  There are more small farms than large ones, but the bulk of what we eat comes from large farms.  For example, there were once one million pig farms; 80,000 now accommodate as many pigs as those million did.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if you have been reading about the efforts these factory farms make to prevent people from photographing and documenting the conditions there. There have been some discussions of the free speech issues involved in the attempt to quash investigative journalism of this sort. In this context, books like Singer's Animal Liberation and Foer's book make a huge contribution, because they put information out there that is very difficult for a curious person to get.

    I'd like to read more about conditions in factory fisheries, because I eat fish, and feel that I am not as well informed as I ought to be. Have you determined whether the conditions for fish are as bad as those for chickens and pigs (apart from the interesting argument you mention about the fish farm as a viable alternative to overfishing)?