This student worked very hard on learning the structure of an opinion essay, web source credibility, how to gather sources, and how to write an opinion essay with in-text citations, and a bibliography in MLA format. She covered a lot of ground! This is a topic Ollie is passionate about and I’m proud to present her essay.

The Truth about Factory Farming

Have you ever heard the phrase Factory Farming? Maybe you have. Maybe you think factory farming is good. Maybe you are against it. Maybe you have never heard the two words together. Factory Farming? What’s that? Well, whatever you know or believe, I hope once you are done reading you will be more conscious of the meat you eat. Factory Farming is “a system of rearing livestock using intensive methods, by which poultry, pigs, and cattle are confined indoors under strictly controlled conditions.” (Wikipedia, 2018)  On many farms animals are squeezed into extremely small spaces, forced to eat cheap food waste, held down with chains, forced to go through several heart breaking procedures, and they must stand in their own waste. All this, farmers claim, is to keep them safe. From what? Well, in some cases: each other. The conditions can get so bad the animals fight and kill each other. In other cases weather or predators put the animals at risk. Not all farms are like this though. Most farms are actually very good to their animals. They give them lots of land, they treat them kindly, and feed them grass. Actually more farms than not do this. Factory farms make up only 8% of all farms, but since they squeeze so many animals into small spaces they produce more meat. About 80% of the food grown in the U.S. is from factory farms. That is a lot of meat.  All this is for people like you and me to have a meal.

Proponents of factory farming insist that farming their way conserves space. Putting so many animals so close together might lead you to believe that this is true, but it is not. In 1900 around 40% of the U.S. population was living on the farm. Now, only about 1% still do, yet the product supply has tripled!  How can this be? Well, back then the average farm was very different. Farming guide books instructed farmers to give their animals love and affection, to give them more space, and to feed them nice healthy food. Cows lived on big expanses of pasture and ate clean grass. Now, large farmers are responsible for 80% of the food grown in the United States yet they make up only 8% of all farmers. Almost all the meat in the average grocery store is from factory farms. Some farms are CAFO’s (Confined Animal Feeding Operation), which squeeze many animals into very small spaces, hoping to get more meat faster and efficiently, and usually it works.But it does not come without a price.  So, all these animals need to eat. Right? And because there are more of them, you need more land to grow feed for them. So it actually amounts to more land. “Animals living on big pastures need more land,” argue pro-factory farming farmers. This is a myth! When you actually do the math it amounts to much more land. The older kind of pasture farming is way better for the environment than big commercial CAFO’s because the animals are in the right place in the food chain. They are eating grass and taking up less space because Mother Nature is giving them their feed (grass). The argument that factory farming conserves space is actually not true once you take a closer look and not only that, but it also makes animals sick.

Imagine you have a disease that you need antibiotics to cure. You have been eating meat all your life, oblivious to the fact that you are also consuming antibiotics. On many factory farms farmers feed their animals antibiotics to keep them healthy, which is a good thing right? It prevents the animal from getting sick, which then prevents you from getting sick. However, after the animals are fed or injected with antibiotics they are then ‘contaminated’ with the antibiotics and when you eat the meat you then digest the antibiotics too. If you consume too much antibiotics your body builds up an immunity to them and they can’t help you. We consume the antibiotics and become immune to their help when we need it. This could be very dangerous if you were in need of antibiotics and they wouldn’t work.

According to Huffpost’s 2014 article, ‘9 Facts about Factory Farming That Will Break Your Heart’ “In 2011 more than 80%of all antibiotics produced were fed to livestock”. Antibiotic use in factory farms, but in many other places in the world antibiotic use is totally unregulated. The overuse of antibiotics is dangerous for animals and people.

When you hear all these facts about the animals you and I eat, it makes you think about what you’re putting into your mouth. But these next facts I think will help you be even more conscious. Some farmers believe that the animals they raise and slaughter are “of no more moral worth” than the bars they are kept behind. (McWilliams) Every day cows, chickens, ducks, pigs, and veal are stuffed into cages,  chained to the floor with heavy chains, forced to stand ankle deep in their own waste and forced to eat antibiotics. Would you like to be an animal living in these conditions? I don’t think so. There was an investigation into a major CAFO in the U.S.. Undercover journalists revealed that every day, male chicks, which are no use to buyers, are put on a conveyor belt and sent straight into a grinder. They also discovered that fowl are de-beaked to to prevent cannibalism often by burning or cutting them off. In the tight conditions these birds have to live in, they are stressed to the point that they try to kill each other. Veal calfs are held down with heavy chains to prevent them from bashing themselves against the sides of their cages and hurting themselves.If all these things are to keep the animals ‘safe,’ then why do most cows living in CAFO’s die before their 5th birthday when normally cows can live easily past the age of 20? Abusing animals like this just for meat is wrong.

Now that you know more about factory farming and its effects on animals, the environment, and you, I hope you will be more conscious of the meat you are eating. Next time you go to the grocery store remember to take a peek at the label. Check if it’s local, organic, and if the farm treats its animals well. Then decide if you really want to eat this. Think of the antibiotics you could be consuming and the animals you are eating. Did that animal live a short life in a cage or a long life in a field? So, now that you know some facts, do you want to believe the myth about factory farming taking up less space, being good for the animals, and being safe for humans to consume? Or the truth, which is that pasture farming is better for the environment, the animals, and you.   

Works Cited

“9 Facts about Factory Farming That Will Beak Your Heart.” Huffpost, 4 Dec. 2014, Accessed 26 April 2018.

“Factory Farming Facts.”, Accessed 26 April 2018.   

“Intensive animal Farming” Wikipedia, Accessed 21 June 2018.

Lusk, Jason. “Why Industrial Farms Are Good For The Environment.”  The New York Times, 23 Sep. 2016, Accessed 26 April 2018.

McWilliams, James. “The Dangerous Psychology of Factory Farming.” The Atlantic, 24 Aug. 2011, Accessed 26 April 2018.  

“Pros of Factory Farming: Are There Any?” The Ethical Farming Fund, 29 Aug. 2015, Are-There-Any. Accessed 26 April 2018.

Smith, Jason. “In Defence of Factory Farming.” Spiked, 25 Oct. 2010, Accessed 26 April 2018.

Van der Zee, Bibi. “Why factory farming is not just cruel – but also a threat to  all life on the planet.” The Guardian, 4 Oct. 2017,    Accessed 26 April 20018.