The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, a two-and-a-half year long study by a non-profit organization, calls for urgent and major reform of confined animal operations.
“One of the most serious unintended consequences of industrial food animal production is the growing public health threat of these types of facilities,” the report said. “There is increasing urgency to chart a new course” in agriculture, which has been shifting over the last 50 years from family farms to large livestock meat producers.”
The studies primary focus assessed four areas of impact by industrial farms:
- Impact on public healthy by overuse of antibiotics on food animals, primarily the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria
- Impact on the environment from animal waste
- The need for humane treatment of animals
- The impact on family farms from lack of competition and the consolidation of the agribusiness entities
Recommendations from the report include:
- Phasing out and banning antibiotics and other antimicrobials that are used to promote growth but not treat illnesses. To understand more about this issue, visit the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Health Observatory.
- Improving animal disease monitoring and tracking. Currently this issue is a source of debate. Check out the discussion at Ethicurean.
- Creating regulations for farm waste, making the farms responsible for the costs to clean up and prevent pollution. This unpaid cost by industrial farms is one of the key factors in the artificially low price of meats. For more insights on these real costs, visit The Meatrix.
- A ten-year deadline to phase out all “intensive confinement” practices such as gestation crates, birthing crates, battery cages for poultry, and individual confinement of calves for veal.
- A call for enforcement of antitrust laws to bring fair practices and competition back to the livestock industry.
There will be a battle ahead on these points, particularly the antitrust laws. It is refreshing to see independent studies like this surface in the media and call for urgent changes. Making sure our representatives hear that call and hear it from us is a great next step. Here is how to find your Representatives and your Senators.