Factory Farms in Pennsylvania
The silos and gentle meadows pictured on the labels of the food most Americans buy have little relation to howthat food is actually produced. The significant growth inindustrial-scale, factory-farmed livestock has contributedto a host of environmental, public health, economic andfood safety problems. Tens of thousands of animals cangenerate millions of tons of manure annually, which pol-lutes water and air and can have health repercussions onnearby communities. Consumers in distant markets alsofeel the impacts, either through foodborne illness outbreaksor other 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 arenot benefitting from this system of production because theyare 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.
Food & Water Watch found that although Pennsylvaniamore than quadrupled the number of dairy cows on thelargest operations over the decade, from 11,900 in 1997to 54,600 in 2007, the growth of factory dairy farms inPennsylvania was overwhelmed by the size and growth of factory-farmed dairies in Western states. In 2007, there weremore than 2.7 million cows on factory-farmed dairies in
ver the last two decades, small- and medium-scale livestock farms have givenway to factory farms that confine thousands of cows, hogs and chickens intightly packed facilities. In Pennsylvania, there were 998,000 hogs, 35,300 beef cattle,54,600 dairy cows and 25.5 million chickens on the largest operations in 2007,according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture. Pennsylvaniaranks fifth in the nation in factory-farmed egg-laying hens.
Concentration of factory farms in Pennsylvania, taken fromfactoryfarmmap.org. Dark red indicates the most severe density.
Total Factory-Farmed Animals in Pennsylvania