Hog Farms Impose Burdens on All Citizens
|November 22, 2003||Posted by Staff under The Progress Report|
No one can be proud of the factory farms and the agribusiness corporations that run them. Yet we support them with corporate welfare subsidies and by eating factory-produced meat.
There are superior alternatives.
by Annie Spiro
When you picture the animal that your meat once was, gross as that idea may seem, what do you see? Happy cows munching alfalfa in a field? Pigs running to their feeding troughs after hearing the traditional ‘Suey!’? Chickens running around a barnyard pecking for feed on the ground?
If these are the visions that dance in your head when you think about farm animals, you are wrong…dead wrong.
The truth about livestock farming is a lot darker, and less humane, than most consumers realize.
And it exists at the detriment of our environment, our health and the treatment of the animals themselves while they are alive.
In the 1950s agricultural corporations began to take over smaller family farms, increasing profits and decreasing the amount of space needed for production.
That may all sound very good in theory, but the reality has produced sickness and disease for every living organism that encounters it.
Families Against Rural Messes, an activist group working against factory farms in the Midwest, has received a lot of popularity lately with their short animated film, titled The Meatrix.
It can be found at www.themeatrix.com, and it details just what is wrong with this increasingly-common corporate practice, as well as what can be done to remedy it.
The story is told through the eyes of a pig, Leo, who chooses to swallow the red pill, and see the truth with the help of the shades-wearing cow Moopheus.
While obviously cheesy, the film does strike home images of dying pigs, chickens getting their beaks cut off and polluted water and air streaming from factories.
It has been getting a lot of publicity, including coverage by USA Today. Within its first 48 hours, the site got over 500,000 visits.
According to FARM President Karen Hudson, one of the main problems with these “farms” is there is no good way to get rid of the tons and tons of solid waste they produce.
According to Hudson, a pig will excrete two to four times as much waste as a human does per day.
And when these pig farms are home to as many as 10,000 hogs, corporations simply cannot dispose of it all sanitarily.
The way most factory farms dispose of the excrement is by using lagoons, or pits many times the size of a football field that attempt to minimally treat the waste naturally by letting it revert back into soil.
This may sound like a good, healthy way to dispose of what is essentially manure, and it is good — in smaller amounts.
Traditionally, animal waste is used to fertilize land.
But the sheer volume of waste is far more than nature can take care of alone. The waste seeps into water sources, polluting the lakes, streams and rivers that many people depend on.
In addition to this, the smell is out of this world. Anyone who has spent any time near a pigpen can tell you the stench is nearly unbearable.
And this is for only a couple pigs. The smell coming from a hog factory farm permeates the land for miles around it, lowering property values by almost 90 percent in some circumstances, Hudson said.
To balance these facts out, I decided to search for some information that showed factory farms in a good light. Surely, I thought, there must be something other than profit to recommend such practices.
What I found, not entirely to my disbelief, is that there really is no upside to factory farms when it comes to health, the environment or the treatment of animals.
Simply said, factory farms are a breeding ground for animal cruelty, disease, decreased property value for people living around them, and tons and tons of crap.
Among the myriad environmental concerns that plague us today, this is one of the more serious. It affects not only animals and plants immediately, but humans as well.
Annie Spiro is a columnist and reporter at the Daily Vidette. This article appears with her permission.
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