Factory Farming / CAFOs

“Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: they’re only animals.”

~German Jewish philosopher Theodor Adorno

Page updated 10/1/15  – The excellent, interactive “factory farm map” has been updated to year 2012. Also added: De-beaking video and broiler chickens’ abnormal weight gain; “Factory farms’ wide net of pain & destruction” – (scroll to ‘new’ arrow)

*5 modern diseases grown by factory farming
*Factory farms may be killing us

From Huff Post Green: “Why everyone should be angry about factory farming” – includes slide show with useful statistics. Find it here.

10 things everyone should know about free-range turkeys – here’s a hint: They ain’t livin’ the good life. Find it here. Cage-free isn’t cruelty-free.

FARM TO FRIDGE: The truth behind meat production from Mercy for Animals

Shocking video: Walmart pork supplier caught abusing pigs.  “Walmart likes to brag about its low prices, but the hidden cost of Walmart’s cheap products is blatant animal abuse.” Bob Barker introduces the Mercy for Animals video; watch it here or, if you choose not to view, just stop the video and read the text. Then click here for info on “The Hidden Cost of Walmart’s Pork.”

*NBC shows undercover pig abuse video  (link re-established)


Montana’s former governor proposed a massive hog production facility in Shelby, MT for export to China. Read more: All  factory, no farm: And the CAFOs go rolling along.  At the Other Nations blog (posted Feb. 2012–the facility hasn’t materialized.)

AFO? CAFO?  Here’s the EPA’s definition of an AFO: “Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs) are agricultural operations where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. AFOs congregate animals, feed, manure and urine, dead animals, and production operations on a small land area. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing or otherwise seeking feed in pastures, fields, or on rangeland. Your operation is an AFO if: You confine animals for at least 45 days in a 12-month period, and (t)here’s no grass or other vegetation in the confinement area during the normal growing season.”

CAFOs–where animals are not just congregated–but are concentrated–are operations that meet the AFO criteria along with other regulatory criteria. Approximately 15% of AFOs are CAFOs. Visit the EPA for more.

FACTORY FARM MAP: This is an excellent tool. Now updated to 2012. Interactive by state, you can apply filters for the various production species and retrieve data by county (retrieval takes a few seconds in some instances). Below the map, data can be displayed in charts and rankings.  Click here.

*Adirondack Dairy Farm Cruelty: (The original posting disappeared; here’s an advocacy alert from some time ago with details and video.)
*FactoryFarm.com: photo gallery
*FactoryFarming.com: a comprehensive site from Farm Sanctuary
*Mercy for Animals: undercover investigations – video footage – numerous videos available at that page. If watching them is hard, imagine being one of the animals…

*Behind Closed Doors: Former factory farm & slaughterhouse workers speak out in harrowing accounts (text, not video) from Mercy for Animals (no longer available?).

AG-GAG LAWS protect abusers, muzzle whistleblowers, suppress democracy 
Ag-gag defined: HSUS – includes links & videos
Ag-gag laws by state – from SourceWatch
Citizens Against Ag-Gag Legislation on Facebook
“Taping of farm cruelty is becoming a crime” New York Times 4/6/13
“Turn off that camera!” ABC The Blotter 2/5/13
“Undercover activist vows to fight ag-gag laws” ABC The Blotter 3/21/13
Ag-gag loses a BIG one! April 27, 2013  Food Safety News
Hog farmer/lawmaker’s “tape & rape” comment exposes conflict here
Woman facing charges for filming at Utah slaughterhouse 4/29/13 here; charges dropped 4/30/13 here; excellent commentary here, Green is the New Red


Added 10/1/15: Debeaking video shows standard practice on free-range egg farms – here; abnormal weight gain forced on broiler chicks: “A child raised to weigh 500 pounds by age 10?”here

“Factory farms’ wide net of pain and destruction” – The Organic Consumers Assoc. lays out all the ills rather succinctly…here.

Added 5/18/15: Factory Farming News Blog (not necessarily abolition/vegan) – includes a bibliography of FF books. Here.

Added 1/19/15: “Emotions running high in Indiana farm fight” – Everything about this story is outrageous–including the fact that a 93-year-old WWII vet may be forced to leave his home and another woman’s house & property lost $121,500 in value when a CAFO announced plans to build. Most outrageous? A complete lack of empathy for the animals, and inane comments like “I’m not against farming but…” and the idea that CAFOs are “necessary.” Find it here

1/16/15: Spy drones expose factory farms – here
Oprah Winfrey Show: Inside a slaughterhouse – here
Jon Stewart on gestation crates
(11/19/14) – here and his scathing follow-up (12/1/14) is here.
“In the belly of the beast”: A small band of animal rights activists have [sic] been infiltrating the factory farms where animals are turned into meat under the most horrific circumstances. Now the agribusiness giants are trying to crush them. A 12/10/13 feature from Rolling Stone – includes many links.

“9 facts about factory farming that will break your heart,” here
“Big Chicken: Polllution & industrial chicken production in America,” a 2011 report from PEW Charitable Trusts (here) and further analysis from Dec. 2013.

ACLU on ag-gag and freedom of speech; includes current state laws & restrictions

CAFO – The tragedy of industrial animal factories: Another comprehensive site. After viewing the slide show on the home page, click on “the issue” for an index of topics. NOTE: The book and website advocate the end of factory farming, not the end of all farmed animal exploitation. If you can overlook this, you’ll find excellent information on the abuses of industrial animal agriculture. Below: a 3-minute trailer for CAFO, the book.

Undercover at Smithfield Foods:  An investigator from The Humane Society of the United States documented the suffering endured by female breeding pigs held in severely restrictive gestation crates on a factory farm operated by a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer.

Purdue study examines toxic manure results: “Manure runoff from concentrated animal farming operations in Indiana is impacting the reproduction and gender of wild fish, according to this study. The hormone-laden waste contaminates local waterways, leading to 60% of fish embryos being male (in a control setting with fish in uncontaminated water, the ration was close to 50:50). The study’s authors and other fish experts worry that the contaminants may lead to a decline in fish populations. Additionally, waterways contaminated by animal farms had 50% less fish diversity and a 28% higher adult minnow death rate when compared to the uncontaminated waterway.” Find more information here.

The Problem with Factory Farms: a Time Science interview with the author of Animal Factory. Fact: 2% of U.S. livestock facilities raise 40% of all farmed animals.

imagesCautionary tale from North Carolina: “There are now approximately 2,500 industrial swine facilities raising 10,000,000 hogs in North Carolina’s coastal plain. …Based upon a study…that compared hog to human waste, these hogs are producing more fecal matter in Eastern North Carolina each day than is produced by all the citizens (combined) in North Carolina, California, Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, New Hampshire, and North Dakota. This incredible amount of fecal matter is constantly being flushed from the confinement buildings where these animals are kept under what are often grossly inhumane conditions. Once flushed, the feces and urine from these animals is stored in the open environment in huge earthen sewage pits called lagoons. These lagoons constantly discharge to the surrounding environment. As the lagoons fill up, the waste is sprayed onto heavily ditched fields under the pretext of growing crops. It is a waste disposal system that results in runoff to the public trust waters. It is a major polluter of the air (ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and methane gases), ground water and wetlands, streams, creeks and rivers.” Read more here.

BOOKS with associated websites that include additional resources (caveat: not all advocate the abolition of animal exploitation or veganism)

Animal Factory by David Kirby
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
CAFO Reader – companion to the larger CAFO book

Mercy for Animals: Iowa Ag-gag protest photos. The nation’s first “modern” ag-gag bill (after KS, MT, & ND in 1990-91) was signed by Iowa’s governor on March 2, 2012, criminalizing undercover reportage of animal abuse in factory farms. Scroll down at that page for a 1:30 minute video, “Ag-Gag: What are factory farmers hiding? See for yourself.” Yes, it’s difficult to watch, but knowing the truth can set us–and suffering animals–free from diets and lives of corporate greed, cruelty, and oppression.

Stay tuned…there’s (sadly) more to come.