Every day people consume meats, oils, and various animal products, without a clue as to the process these products go through to get to our tables. Farming and animal processing has evolved to a mass scale to support our ever growing society. The general idea that it is acceptable to kill animals for useful purposes, i.e. food, is widely accepted, yet it is the methods of which we do this that are debated. The main process that is used across the world for these operations is known as Factory Farming. By raising the livestock in a confined area with a high stock density, the farm essentially turns into an animal factory. Well known benefits of this process include smaller costs, higher availability of products, and of course, lots of profits. However, when the processing details are revealed there are many questionable and controversial issues that arise when using this method of production. Although technically the debate rages on as to whether factory farming is morally acceptable or not, it is clear that this process in bypasses morals in its pursuit of the almighty dollar.
In Current Issues, Peter Singer composes the article, “Animal Liberation”, in an effort to enlighten the basic reader on the social and moral problems with factory farming. Singer says, “A liberation movement demands an expansion of our moral horizons, so that practices that were previously regarded as natural and inevitable are now seen as intolerable” (Singer 205), to set the basis for his goal which is not just for people to realize the cruelty going on but for them to make it so intolerable that the offenders must change their actions. One of his main arguments is based on the idea of suffering and the proposal relating human suffering to animal suffering. “If a being suffers, there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration” (Singer 207), relates to the fact that society agrees animals can suffer, and the principle that no being has the right to make another suffer. If people agree animals have the ability to suffer, it is unjust and unacceptable for us to deliberately make them suffer for our benefit. Singer also covers the accounts of Richard Ryder and his description of various experiments that were done on animals. He is angered by hearing of these and is appalled that there has not been an outcry from the public on these occurrences. This traces back to his “liberation” definition and the need for consistency in the public’s deterrence of animal cruelty. Singer points to the farmers falling under lucrative business methods as the reason why, “[Man] has never exploited [animals] so ruthlessly as he does today” (Singer 213). He goes on to specifically cover some of the rules and regulations of acceptable farming being violated by factory farming. Singer eventually closes with the question of whether a purely moral demand for the acceptable treatment of animals can outweigh the financial gains of immorality.
Rick Dove had been on plenty of missions in his time as a Marine JAG and Vietnam Veteran, yet his most important one took place in his very own backyard in New Bern, North Carolina. Dove’s house was built on the Neuse River, as well as many other families’ homes in this small North Carolina town. Usually a fresh flowing river with an abundance of fish and wildlife, Dove slowly saw the river begin to blur. To his surprise one morning him and the community awoke to the stench of thousands of dead fish washed on the shores and floating in the water, all of them covered with open red sores. Turns out as a result of factory farming practices from a pig farm up the river, contaminants were assisting the growth of bacteria that was wiping out the wildlife along the river in mass proportions. The property that he and his family had enjoyed for years, with clean water for sailing and swimming and healthy animals for crabbing and fishing, had been reduced to a smelly avenue for contaminated factory waste. Many stories like these continue to pop up all across the country, day after day, year after year, and will continue to do so until factory farming is properly regulated and controlled. Factory Farming isn’t just affecting the animals anymore, as it is beginning to effect families and communities, as well as surrounding ecosystems. According to Ben Goldsmith, director of Farm Forward, a company focused on animal rights laws, the industry is forcing animals to be, “no longer capable of reproducing without human interference,[…] and they certainly can’t live to the normal life span that they once could” (Anon. NFM 1). A common analogy used by many is that factory farming is comparable to slavery, and it isn’t just the actual torture that we are inflicting on these animals that is the problem but it is also the ripple effects we are creating. This will continue to go on until violators are forced to change their practices and alternatives are found.
An informative article written by E.B Pluhar, “Meat and Morality: Alternatives to Factory Farming”, is concentrated on the alternatives of Vegetarian food production, humane food animal farming, and in-vitro meat production. Humane food animal farming is the most realistic and attainable alternative at this moment. The best point made is the idea that a change starts with those, “[…] most directly and most badly affected, those who must work in such facilities” (Pluhar 456). There are statistics indicating there are residual emotional and psychological problems in people resulting from employment at such facilities like a slaughterhouse. Many slaughterhouses and related facilities are adamant about the blocking of unions from their industry. This allows them to exploit their workers and continue their practices without repercussions. If these workers were able to unionize and have the industry employers meet their demands, it would result in an immediate improvement on the overall process. Without the guarantee of their human resources, employers would be forced to succumb to a reasonable amount of demands and in turn give the employees union leverage to improve the animal conditions as well. Another correlating step in this improvement process would be the collaboration of all Food, Health, and Agriculture related administrations. The FDA, USDA, FSIS, etc. could come together to tighten up their regulations for the factory farming industry, resulting in improved treatment of animals as well as a reduction of safety hazards in this production process. Julie Follmer and Roseann Termini cover certain organizations and their responsibilities in this industry in their article, “Whatever happened to Old Macdonald’s Farm?” They pose the question, “Who really has the regulatory authority over the safety of meat, poultry and egg products?” (Follmer 45), which one would think lies underneath the designated food and safety organizations. However, it seems that the industry has more power and influences these administrations into a favorable stance for them. These two women talk about the failure of many of these administrations to meet their responsibilities. While costs may be raised slightly through this move toward humane food animal farming, it is unacceptable for the weight of our wallets to conquer the weight of our morals.
As consumers and members of the workforce, a change in factory farming practices begins with us. Many people are unaware as to the actual production methods used to make the meat and dairy products we buy in the grocery stores. The process we know as factory farming is immoral and unacceptable. We need to make some sacrifices to improve our treatment of a species of whom we are very alike. The stories of environments being ruined, health tragedies, and cruelty due to greed need to stop, and it starts with us. These images below give a visual insight into the world of Factory Farming.