Factory Farming Pros and Cons List
Factory farming is a contentious issue. There are millions of people who get to have food on the plates because of factory farming. Traditional farming has some benefits but it will be unable to meet the nutritional or dietary requirements of more than seven billion people. There is a reason why factor farming was developed. It was not a space odyssey. It was born out of need.
The quintessential benefit of factor farming doesn’t weed out its shortcomings. It is not and should not be a question of choosing the lesser evil. Before anyone arrives at an inference, it is necessary to truly understand the pros and cons of factory farming.
Before we begin, let us shed some light on what factory farming really is. As the name implies, factory farming is large scale production or cultivation of livestock or crops respectively. It attempts to overcome the problems that nature or unpredictability thrusts at us.
List of Pros of Factory Farming
1. Factory Farming is Cost Effective
Anything that is mass produced will cost less. Think of any object you see around you and imagine producing or manufacturing just one piece of that item. Now imagine producing a thousand or a million pieces of that item and you would be able to see a fascinating dip in the cost of production. Take factory farming away and the costs of everything from milk to meat will skyrocket. The reason why food is still affordable can be largely attributed to factory farming.
2. Use of Technology
Factory farming has always been more dependent on technology than human labor. A reason why many countries around the world have unpredictable agricultural output is because of the dependence on human labor. Not every farmer is skilled, not every farmer is as aware or diligent, hard working or even interested in farming. Factory farming does away with such challenges. It automates any process that can be automated. It uses modern machinery to reduce time, to enhance the standards and methods of food processing and it also reduces waste. There are countries that waste hundreds of metric tons of produce simply because of mismanagement. Factory farming ensures that adequate mechanisms are in place that such wastage does not occur. It is the use of technology that has given us the present breed of chickens that grow quickly and their meat is tastier. There are different mix breeds of hens that lay more eggs and do so faster than pure breeds. This concept of breeding wouldn’t have been practiced and perfected had it not been for factory farming. The world would have faced acute shortage of eggs, meat, milk and other food products had it not been for the technology used in factory farming.
3. Factory Farming is Viable
Factory farming is not a traditional family business. It is as corporatized as a consumer electronics business. Hence, it is managed professionally. Trained and academically qualified professionals deal with the production, grading, processing, packaging, distribution and even selling of such products. From farm through the cold chains, through the stores to your kitchen, every process and phase are managed efficiently. This level of efficiency could have never been achieved if archaic farming techniques were still at play. This doesn’t discard the traditional methods of farming but the relevance has to be understood in the right context. There was a time when farmers used to grow their produce for the immediate family and they would have sold a little surplus at local markets. When we live in a country that is a local market and when the world has been globalized, we cannot have people growing food just for themselves. Since farmers cannot be bestowed with the liability of growing more than they can, factor farming is the only viable option.
4. Factory Farming is an Industry
Factory farming is essentially about putting food on the table. But it is also an industry. There are large companies invested in factory farming, generating jobs in the process and also investing in technologies. Research and development in foods has led to startling results. There are more varieties of foods than ever before. Epidemics among livestock and pandemics among crops are almost a thing of the past. Barring the odd instance, we don’t hear of several hundred thousand animals dying of a viral attack or crops across a region being destroyed by some infestation. Factory farming has industrialized the basic need to grow food. Being an industry, factory farming generates thousands of jobs in every state and they are not confined to desk jobs but also field jobs, including extremely technical roles.
5. Factory Farming is Necessary
Factory farming ensures people have food. It helps communities. It helps in distributing food across the nation and beyond. It involves technologies that increase shelf life, reduce wastage and institutionalizes agriculture and animal husbandry. Factory farming is necessary.
List of Cons of Factory Farming
1. Risks of Factory Farming
There are a few risks of factory farming, as is the case with any type of farming or any other business. There is a risk of instigating and even facilitating animal cruelty. The manner in which intensive farms are managed, the way livestock is handled or even mistreated at times do tantamount to animal cruelty. There have been instances reported by the media and even individuals where chickens in intensive farms being grown in cages cramped for space. As a result, the chickens have grown up to be limp or with severe health problems. There are cases where the livestock grown for meat has turned out to be chronically obese and unhealthy with heart problems and unnatural or deformed structures. Factory farming has also lead to higher death rates of livestock due to poor conditions. Livestock in intensive farms don’t die due to viral attacks or infections since they are vaccinated but they undergo a rapid growth cycle in very challenging circumstances for them which stress them and they often die from heart attacks.
2. Dwindling Food Quality
The focus on quantity would always risk quality. Major food corporations have tried to maintain the highest standards of quality but there are many instances when the health of the livestock or the exact methods used to produce a certain crop have been put to question. Use of pesticides, vaccines, fertilizers and an array of different methods have often been criticized as being unhealthy and to an extent harmful for people consuming those produces.
3. Factory Farming is not Eco Friendly
Whether we use a ton of fertilizers or numerous pesticides, environmentally controlled intensive farms for animals or technology enabled farming methods, none are actually eco friendly. The carbon footprint of factory farming is not a major but a substantial contributor to global warming. Large farms also cause substantial water and air pollution.
The Last Word
It is difficult to do away with factory farming but there is always room for improvement. With even better technology and greater understanding of crops and livestock, factory farming can be made eco friendly, fairer to the livestock and crops being raised and steps can be taken to ensure that harmful or toxic materials don’t end up in any method. It would remain a contentious issue till then but by no means can it be deemed insignificant or unnecessary.