From the archives: Dan Imhoff, editor of the anthology book, CAFO: The Tragedy Of Industrial Animal Factories, and artisan food producer, shares some of the horrific truths behind large-scale, industrial livestock production. Although the term ‘CAFO’ — concentrated animal feeding operations— sounds somewhat vague and nonthreatening, Imhoff explains why this type of farming operates more like a factory than a smaller scale, integrated livestock farm which he supports.
In this November 2010 ‘Friends of Family Farmers’ talk, Imhoff defines the central purpose of a CAFO: to confine “as many animals into the smallest space, to grow them as quickly as possible, at the least possible cost.” To provide a sense of scale of these CAFO operations he lists some of their numbers: 100,000 beef cattle; 10,000 hogs in 8 windowless buildings; 30,000 broiler chickens; and 15,000 holstein (dairy) cows.
The resulting toxic mix of concentrated animal waste that’s produced, says Imhoff, has seeped into the surrounding environment and has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and significantly contaminated groundwater in 17 states. He also cites the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that lists the agriculture sector, the beef and dairy production industries, in particular, as being a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
Here’s a more recent report (2013) by the UN FAO that goes more into detail about the role of livestock production and climate change (PDF): http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3437e.pdf
For those who may be interested in his book: CAFO Reader: The Tragedy Of Industrial Animal Factories, here’s a link to this more affordable companion book: https://www.powells.com/book/cafo-reader-the-tragedy-of-industrial-animal-factories-9780970950055?partnerid=42348&p_ti
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