Calling for a Ban on Factory Farming in the United States
Des Moines, IA – A group of farmers, advocates and community leaders gathered in Iowa today to announce the launch of a national campaign to ban factory farming. Factory farming facilitates an unjust, corporate-driven food system that results in unethical, unsafe and polluting food production practices.
The call for a ban on factory farming is a decisive step necessary to protect all Americans from the dangers of unsustainable food animal production. Factory farms exacerbate climate change and contribute to public health crises, release dangerous toxins into the air we breathe and the water we drink, disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color, and create dangerous and unhealthy conditions for workers and animals. The rise of factory farms in our nation has transformed rural and economically diverse communities into agribusiness-controlled nightmares.
“In 2011, we joined grassroots groups that were demanding a ban on fracking because it’s a threat to our water that turns rural areas into sacrifice zones,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “Now, we’re banding together with communities around the country who believe the time for a ban on factory farming has come as well.”
Food & Water Watch also released a report, The Urgent Case for a Ban on Factory Farms, which outlines the policy and regulatory failures that have led the groups to call for a ban on the practice. The report also outlines the climate impacts, the environmental injustice of where these facilities are sited, air and water pollution concerns, antibiotic resistance and other food safety issues, and the impact on rural economies. The report also highlights the massive amounts of manure that highly consolidated livestock operations produce, threatening our waterways: For example, Food & Water Watch calculates that the nearly 500,000 dairy cows on factory farms in Tulare County, California produce five times as much waste as the New York City metropolitan area.
Currently, Iowa houses an estimated 10,000 industrial livestock operations that employ unsustainable methods of raising food animals. Like all factory farms, they pack thousands of animals into confined spaces, pose enormous public health risks, and generate massive amounts of waste. Factory farms in Iowa have high released levels of polluting nitrates into drinking water resources, causing the Des Moines Water Works to pursue costly treatment and upgrades over the years.
“People in Des Moines shouldn’t have to worry about our water quality and rate increases required to clean up the pollution that is coming downstream,” said Cherie Mortice, retired Des Moines teacher and Iowa CCI board president. “But, this isn’t a rural versus urban issue. We’re all in this together, and we’re all concerned about our water.”
The groups are calling for a ban on any new or expanding factory farms, as well as new policies to create a food system that can feed people without this destructive model. Those new policies should include:
- Enforcing antitrust laws to break up the agribusiness stranglehold on our food system;
- Establishing programs to ensure grain producers can make a fair living without flooding the market with cheap grains that feed factory farms;
- And rebuilding the local and regional infrastructure needed for small- and mid-sized livestock producers to transport animals to market.
The groups support existing efforts to enact a legislative moratorium on new and expanded factory farms in Iowa because it would provide immediate relief to people in impacted communities. A legislative moratorium would also allow for an opportunity to quantify the harms the industry has had on Iowa’s water. The groups said they plan to continue working together to build support for legislation that would stop the spread of the factory farming industry in Iowa.
“We’ve seen family farmers essentially wiped out of the livestock business across Iowa, which in turn has decimated our rural communities,” said Barb Kalbach, fourth-generation family farmer and Iowa CCI member from Adair County, Iowa. “Reforming our food and agriculture system so that it works for farmers, workers, eaters, and our environment starts with stopping factory farms.”
“Like fracking, factory farming is too dangerous for our environment to simply regulate,” said Hauter. “We need to work together around the country to stop factory farms and protect our communities, our air and water, and our climate.”