Photo by Desiree Fawn

We are more aware of factory farms environmental impact than ever before. As Bill Gates stated, if cattle were it’s own country, they would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases. So what impacts do factory farms have on our environment, our health, and where are they being built in your state?

factory farms impact
Photo by Antonio Grosz

Factory Farms Environmental Impact

Factory farms contribute to climate change in a big way! Raising livestock contributes to deforestation, polluted waterways, and increased carbon emissions–just to name a few!

The waste these 64 billion animals produce contribute to many of the environmental and health atrocities. Livestock animals produce 369 million tons of manure annually. Factory farms typically use the animal waste as fertilizer. Unfortunately, the soil cannot incorporate these large quantities and manure ends up polluting nearby streams, rivers, lakes, etc (Factory Farm Map).

Moreover, factory farms contribute to 574 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions (New York Times). Alarmingly, meat consumption doubled over the past 10 years after remaining stagnate in the 90’s (New York Times). An increase in meat is attributed to global consumption which increased by 76% according to a UN report.

Factory Farms and Our Health

health impacts of factory farming
Photo by Stephen Pedersen

Factory farms affect our health too! They emit more than 168 gasses; and include ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and methane. Health complications include asthma and brain damage, as well as, miscarriage and birth defects. Unfortunately, disease is spread via air and water.

According to PETA, when lagoons holding waste are full, factory farms spray the waste into the air. These waste lagoons can also become too full resulting in run off water. This run off pollutes nearby water ways and can contaminate them with E.Coli.

Overcrowded factory farms contribute to the rapid spread of disease. It is widely believed H1N1 started in a factory farm and spread because of overcrowding.

Factory Farms in Your State

So where are factory farms in your state? Factory Farm Map is an excellent resource. The interactive map breaks down where and what type of factory farms are in your state. Filters allow you to see how many broilers, layers, hogs, cattle, and dairy factory farms are in your state. The site also allows you to drill down by county.

Food and Water Watch channels your anger into action! They provide surveys, petitions, and community resources. You can also connect with local campaigns in your state via the site!

Finally, local groups like Sierra Club often are strong advocates for policy change. Your local chapter may be a great connection for you too!