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Organic Consumers Association

Organic Index 9.4.13

  • From Farm to Factory: The Industrialization of Meat and Dairy Farming
    By Organic Consumers Association
    September 4, 2013

More and more people, eating more and more meat. It should add up to more and more farms raising animals for meat, right? Wrong.

According to Foodopoly, by Wenonah Hauter, in 1935, 54 percent of the population lived on 6.8 million farms. Between 1950 and 1970, farm populations declined by more than one half. Today, says Hauter, under one million farms produce the bulk of the food (meat and vegetables) produced in the U.S., and farmers make up less than one percent of the nation’s population.

So who’s producing all that meat? Two hundred pounds per person per year, conservatively speaking?

Factory farms. Where efficiency, speed and technology rule. And animal welfare, farmers’ welfare, community welfare and quality protein matter little, if it all.
 
The Decline of Small Farms

1.4 million:
The number of lost cattle, hog and dairy farms over the past 30 years - draining the income out of rural communities.

$18,000: The amount the average chicken farmer (with two poultry houses) makes a year after investing over $500,000.

18.5: The percentage decline in the price for beef cattle between 2004 and 2008.

31: The percentage decline in average monthly farm gate hog prices between 2004 and 2008.

19: The percentage decline in the farmers’ share of a market basket of groceries in 2006, after declining by 24 percent in 1990.

41: The percentage decline between 1980 and 2008 in the number of beef cattle operations - from nearly 1.3 million producers to 757,000.

90: The percentage decline between 1980 and 2008 in the number of hog farms - from 667,000 to 64,760.

80: The percentage decline in the number of dairy farms from 1980 to 2008 - from 335,270 to 67,000.

52,000: The number of dairy farms lost between 1997 and 2007 in the U.S. - about 5,000 farms every year – even as milk production has remained constant.

The Rise of the Factory Farm

65 billion:
The approximate number of animals on the planet slaughtered for food every year in the world.

10.2 billion: The approximate number of land animals raised and killed in the U.S. for food in 2010.

9: The percentage increase in the average size of factory farms between 2002 and 2007.

33: The percentage increase in the average size of factory-farm dairies between1997 to 2007.

21.2: The percentage increase in the total number of livestock on the largest factory farms between 2002 and 2007.

42: The average percentage increase in size of hog factory farms between 1997 and 2007.

93.4: The percentage increase in dairy cows on factory farms (housing 500 or more cows) between 1997 and 2007. Equal to nearly 650 more dairy cows added per day.

4.9 million: The number of dairy cows on factory farms as of 2007.

17: The percentage increase in beef cattle on feedlots (housing 500 or more head of cattle) between 2002 and 2007. Represents an additional 1,100 beef cattle added every day for five years.

13.5 million: The number of beef cattle on feedlots in 2007, up from 11.6 million in 2002.

36.3: The percentage increase in the number of hogs on factory farms between 1997 and 2007

62.9 million: The number of hogs on factory farms as of 2007.

87.4: The percentage increase between 1997 and 2007 in broiler chickens on the largest factory farms (housing more than 1 billion chickens).

23.6: The percentage increase in egg-laying hens on factory farms between 1997 and 2007.

53.7: The average percentage of growth experienced by egg operations between 1997 and 2007.


Sources:

U.S.-BUSINESS: Poultry Contracts Place Growers’ Lives on Dotted Line

Report: Number of Animals Killed in U.S. Increases in 2010

CAFO’s Uncovered

The Economic Cost of Food Monopolies

Factory Farm Nation: How America Turned Its Livestock Farms into Factories

Has Politics Contaminated the Food Supply?, New York Times


Compiled by Zack Kaldveer, assistant media director of the Organic Consumers Association.

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