Smithfield Farms, the largest pork producer in the United States, has promised to investigate a farm in Virginia. ABC News reports a month-long investigation by the Humane Society of the United States into a farm in Waverly, Va. has shown video of animal pens which are too cramped and ill pigs being mishandled. Some pictures show sows in gestation crates unable to move during the entire four months of their pregnancy. Others show a pig being shot and tossed in a pile of dead pigs while it is still living.
Smithfield promised to improve conditions for their animals, which is why this case is big news. The state of factory farming in America is getting more intense, a recent study shows.
Factory Farming Increases
A study published by Food & Water Watch in late November shows factory farms in the United States are getting bigger. Reuters reports the company analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and found the number of animals on factory farms has increased 20 percent from 2002 until 2007. The actual number of livestock on factory farms rose by 5 million animals in the same period.
The information covers cattle, hogs and chickens. The average size of factory farms increased 9 percent by cramming even more animals into each farm. The largest increase came in dairy cows and broiler chickens.
The Sierra Club states the impact of this type of farming goes beyond having a viable food supply. Water runoff from manure piles contaminate streams and kill fish. The runoff can also spread diseases such as e. coli. Food recalls and human sickness are the result, as well as bad conditions for animals.
Enter organic farming and the controversies surrounding whether or not organic agriculture is better for our modern society. California’s Farm Progress magazine recently reported on a study done about organically raised cows for milk production. The study showed that cows raised using organic methods lived longer and produced more milk over its lifespan. Organic farming was also seen as having longer term economic benefits when it comes to dairy cows.
A new study has been launched by Denmark’s Aarhus University to determine whether organic farming is a viable option in the developing world even as more humans move to cities. Organic Food News Today reports the study will tackle comprehensive issues such as the overall costs of organic farming versus high-volume farms and the environmental impact of organic farming. The point is to present findings as to where and how organic farming can do the most good on the planet.
This new revelation about the factory farm in Virginia will no doubt re-start the debate about organic farming in the United States. Do organic and humane practices in agriculture deserve a more thorough look in America? Perhaps we should look at how humans are treated versus animals to find the answers.
When children and even adults worked in sweatshops and deplorable conditions for decades, they organized labor unions and demanded better working conditions. Imagine working in a space for four months without being able to move while you’re pregnant. When humans are sick and dying, we don’t throw them on a pile of already-dead humans while they are still breathing.
Perhaps vegetarians are onto something. After watching this video, it’s bound to convince more people to eat their vegetables.
ABC News, “Humane Society Claims Pigs Abused at Va. Farm.”
Humane Society of the United States, “HSUS Exposes Inhumane Treatment of Pigs at Smithfield.”
Sierra Club, “Factory Farms.”
Gillam, Carey, “Factory farming on rise, report shows,” Reuters.
Food and Water Watch, “Factory Farm Nation.”
California Farmer, “Study Shows Organic Dairy Advantages,”Farm Progress.
Organic Food News Today , “Global Organic Farming Study Launched in Denmark.”