Asked in Animal Rights and AbuseAgricultureFarm Animals
Who is involved with factory farming?
July 12, 2014 7:16PM
Though this may come to a shock and surprise to many, the answer is everyone, regardless of what diet they have or where they live, exceptions being those who produce their own food and are consistently self-sustaining as far as food-production is concerned, is involved with so-called "factory farming." Though the term "factory farming" is a misnomer in itself because barely any level of confined intensive animal feeding operations are as much of a factory as the kind of factories that exist to make vehicles or the sweet snack you just had moments ago (and the fact that it is a term coined by the animal rights activists opposed to such unnatural practices of raising livestock), the fact that everyone is involved in or with its existence is something no one can argue with. The reason everyone is involved with the existence and production of confined animal feeding operations is because of their purchasing power. It doesn't have to be purchasing meat which you know not exactly where it originates nor how the animal which it came from was treated prior to having its flesh sold on grocery market shelves, it also has to do with what is fed to livestock.
Crops are often not grown for solely human food or livestock feed, nor for just biofuel. Everything is integrated into a large, complex system that is linked in more ways than most can imagine, to the point where trying to consider the system by simplifying it down to just one thing does it no justice whatsoever. Crops are often not grown to be turned into or used for just one thing, they are used for multiple things to avoid or minimize the waste generated from the use of that one crop. For example many crops which are grown for human consumption be it biofuel, cooking oil, alcohol, or just food to be put on the grocery store shelves in the "fresh" isle are not grown solely for just that. Waste is generated when these crops are used to make these items, and the amount of waste generated from breweries or biofuel plants is so astronomical that it is impractical to throw it all into a landfill and allow to rot to turn it into "green manure" with little nutritional value. So, instead of throwing it all out, it is instead turned into animal feed as a by-product of the food, brewery and biofuel industries and fed to the animals that can best utilize such by-products, primarily being those which are raised on so-called "factory farms." A whole list can be generated as to what kind of by-products can be fed to livestock, some which include brewer's yeast, canola meal, corn meal, soybean hulls, soybean meal, corn gluten, cull potatoes, culled bakery products, etc. If you've ever put ethanol-based fuel into your vehicle, drank some alcohol, or purchased any vegetable from the grocery store, you are still contributing to and being involved in CAFOs.
Waste is not only as a by-product, but also from a grading system that determines which vegetables (and starches like potatoes) should be put on the grocery shelves or served in any restaurant and which should be discarded. Discarded vegetables are usually those that are aesthetically displeasing or of inferior quality to be sold to you the consumer. As mentioned above, the amount of vegetables that are discarded so that you can purchase the vegetables you want to purchase to make dinner or supper is so high that farmers and hence producers involved in CAFOs have to find ways--and have already done so--to reduce the amount of waste generated from discarded raw vegetables going into the landfill...as well as other products that happen to go stale or are past their expiry date that grocery stores have to purge to keep their customers happy. Food waste is a huge problem in North America, most are well aware of that, so doing something about it by feeding it to animals is one useful solution to such a significant problem.
The only animals it can be fed to are those raised on intensive operations. Such by-products are not fed alone, but as a supplement to enhance the nutritional value of the feed which they're already fed and as a means to better balance a ration nutritionally and financially. (Yes, there still is a financial vested interest in this.) Cull starches/vegetables and by-products are fed as a supplement because often they're too high in a certain nutrient that can be detrimental to the animals' health. For instance, cull bakery products and cull potatoes are extremely high in starch or carbohydrate, and will cause metabolic and digestive issues in any animal which it is fed, especially with cattle. To reduce the issues associated with feeding such a starch-rich feed, it is fed as a supplement along with what is already usually fed to livestock, be it hay, animal by-product (primarily for hogs and poultry), silage, etc.
At the production level, primarily the producers who raise hogs, poultry and dairy cattle in intensive feeding operations are those who are involved with so-called "factory farming" (see above for what factory farming really is and isn't). It is often viewed by opposing groups as something that involves the raising of animals in overcrowded conditions with the often-usage of hormones and high levels of antibiotics in order to produce more meat, milk and eggs without a thought of how unhealthy, inhumane and even unnatural the conditions are for the animals--or the effects their growing practices have on the people who eat the products that came from such operations. However, the existence of such operations are all due to the demand of the consumers, as iterated and implied above. Many people do not know how to raise their own animals to get their own meat and so have to rely on such operations throughout the year for many years in the past and to come in order to get the meat they want. And even those who do not eat meat but still have to run to the grocery store to get their vegetables for their vegetarian or vegan diet instead of relying on what they produce in their own garden rely on the existence of CAFOs because of how not only they can use the produce that is culled, but the manure produced to grow the vegetables that can be sold at your local grocer.