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Factory Farming Expansion Sparks Concerns Over Public Health, the Environment, and Local Agriculture - Systems Change Alliance

Factory Farming Expansion Sparks Concerns Over Public Health, the Environment, and Local Agriculture

Compiled by SCA Staff Writers 

Amidst the release of alarming federal data on the rise of factory farming in the United States, critics are sounding the alarm over the detrimental impacts on public health, the environment, and local agriculture. According to recent figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the number of large-scale factory farms has surged in recent years.

This trend is also increasing in other countries, particularly in Europe and China, with significant increases in the production of cattle, chickens, and hogs.

Environmental Working Group (EWG) Midwest director Anne Schechinger warned that without policy changes, the trend of factory farm expansion will continue, posing threats to various aspects of society. The data revealed a staggering growth in the number of mega factory farms, with cattle, chicken, and hog operations all seeing substantial increases.

Food & Water Watch (FWW) analysis echoed these concerns, highlighting a 6% increase in the number of animals raised on factory farms since 2017, reaching a staggering 1.7 billion annually. This expansion comes at the expense of small-scale, traditional farming operations, which have been dwindling rapidly.

FWW research director Amanda Starbuck emphasized the environmental toll of factory farming, noting that these operations produce immense amounts of waste, polluting water and air. Moreover, the concentration of animals in these facilities exacerbates public health risks, with toxins from animal waste posing dangers to both humans and wildlife.

Critics argue that urgent legislative action is needed to curb the growth of factory farming and protect local agriculture. The Farm System Reform Act, sponsored by Senator Cory Booker and Representative Ro Khanna, aims to address the monopolistic practices of meatpackers and corporate integrators while imposing a moratorium on large factory farms. Additionally, the bill seeks to reinstate mandatory country-of-origin labeling requirements, providing consumers with greater transparency, and supporting local farmers.

As calls for reform intensify, lawmakers are urged to prioritize the health of communities, the environment, and the future of sustainable, local agriculture.

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