Factory Farms in California
The silos and gentle mead-ows pictured on the labels of the food most Americans buyhave little relation to how thatfood is actually produced. The
signicant growth in industrial-
scale, factory-farmed livestockhas contributed to a host of environmental, public health,economic and food safetyproblems. Tens of thousands of animals can generate millions of tons of manure annually, whichpollutes water and air and canhave health repercussions onnearby communities. Consum-ers in distant markets also feelthe impacts, either through foodborne illness outbreaks orother public health risks, or through the loss of regionalfood systems. As consumers saw during the 2010 egg re-call, food safety problems on even a few factory farms canend up in everyone’s refrigerators. Even the producers are
not benetting from this system of production because they
are not getting paid much for the livestock they raise.The rise of factory farming was no accident. It resulted frompolicy choices driven by big agribusinesses, especiallymeatpackers and processors that dominate the links in thefood chain between livestock producers and consumers.
In recent decades, small and mid-sized dairy farms disap-peared and were replaced by factory-farmed dairies thatnow dominate milk production. Between 1997 and 2007,the United States lost 52,000 dairy farms about 5,000farms every year.
The rise of the factory-farmed dairyindustry has transformed the national dairy landscape andshifted milk production away from traditional dairy stateslike Wisconsin, Michigan and New York to mega-dairyoperations in western states.
The number of factory-farmeddairy cows in California increased by almost half from1997 to 2007, adding nearly 543,000 cows for a total of 1.7 million. The average California dairy operation in-creased by 34 percent to 1,521 cows.Small dairies generate less manure than factory farms andcan either apply it to cropland or incorporate it into pastureas fertilizer. Big dairies generate far more manure thanthey can use as fertilizer, so it gets stored in lagoons or is
ver the last two decades, small- and medium-scale livestock farms have given
way to factory farms that conne thousands of cows, hogs and chickens in
tightly packed facilities. In California, there were 131,000 hogs, 563,000 beef cattle,1,678,000 dairy cows and 69,291,000 chickens on the largest operations in 2007,according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture. California
ranks rst in factory-farmed dairy production, fourth in factory-farmed egg-laying
hens, sixth in large cattle feedlots and seventh in factory-farmed broiler chickens.
Concentration of factoryfarms in California, takenfrom factoryfarmmap.org.Dark red indicates the mostsevere density.
Total Factory Farm Animals in California