A Meat and Dairy Article from All-Creatures.org

US Factory Farm Animal Population Soars by 50 Percent in 20-Year Span

From Zane McNeill, Truthout.org
February 2024

'This unsustainable food system … must be reformed before it is too late.'

In addition to the Farm Bill, advocates are also urging Congress to pass the Farm System Reform Act, a bill introduced over multiple legislative sessions by Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) which would place a moratorium on the construction of new factory farms. 'The benefits flow to private coffers while our communities and environment are left holding the bag. Enough is enough — Congress must pass the Farm System Reform Act to ban factory farming now.'

dairy Cows
Cows stand in a corral at the Jordan Dairy Farms Heifer Facility in Spencer, Massachussetts, on June 5, 2020. Image from Adam Glanzman via Getty Images

New data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) 2022 Census of Agriculture shows that 1.7 billion animals are currently being raised in U.S. factory farms every year – a 6 percent increase from 2016 and nearly a 50 percent increase from 20 years ago.

“The largest factory farms that are bad for farmers, the environment and public health keep growing in number,” Anne Schechinger, the Midwest director of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), said in a statement. “The USDA’s new data show that without policy changes, factory farms will continue to get bigger and bigger, wreaking havoc on public health, the environment and the climate.”

The U.S. currently has 24,000 factory farms, or concentrated animal feeding operations, that confine large numbers of animals in small spaces. It’s difficult to comprehend the staggering quantity of animals subjected to these inhumane conditions. The recent data from the USDA reveals that factory farms housing 500,000 or more broiler chickens churned out nearly 1.4 billion additional chickens in 2022 compared to 2012.

“America today is truly a factory farming nation. Status quo legislating in Washington is enabling a corporate feeding frenzy in rural America,” said Amanda Starbuck, Food and Water Watch’s (FWW) research director. “As industrial confinements drive family-scale farmers off their land, we are left with skyrocketing numbers of animals on factory farms producing enormous amounts of waste.”

Each year, factory farms produce 940 billion pounds of manure, surpassing more than double the volume of sewage generated by the entire population of the United States. “This is 52 billion pounds more than in 2017, equivalent to creating a new city of 39 million people (or nearly two New York City metro areas) in the past five years,” FWW said in a statement.


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