About Factory Farm Map

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainably produced. We work to promote the practices and policies that will result in sustainable and secure food systems that provide healthy food for consumers and an economically viable living for family farmers and rural communities.

Why did we create this map?

We wanted to illustrate something that people in rural America have known for a long time: independent family farms are being replaced by factory farms, and these facilities are overwhelming some regions of the country. This method of raising livestock harms rural communities and puts small family farms out of business. It takes away consumers’ choice at the grocery store, makes food safety problems happen on a larger scale, and creates more waste than the surrounding environment can adequately absorb. It keeps animals packed tightly together inside buildings and relies on overusing antibiotics, creating a perfect breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant superbugs that can make all of us sick.

Concentrating the amount of animals into one factory farm, and certain types of factory farms into one part of the country, also concentrates the effects of their waste on the environment. And it sends products from unsustainable, potentially unsafe facilities far and wide before a problem is even detected, putting consumers all over the country at risk.

How did we get here?

Many independent, small- and medium-scale farmers have been forced to get bigger — or get out of farming. And the ones that remain are at the mercy of the few big companies that control the meat system from farm to fork. Because farmers have only a few options for selling their meat to processors, they are forced to do so for low prices — sometimes even less than what their livestock cost to raise. These bad economics pressure many farmers to quit raising livestock, and pressure others to try to make up for low prices per animal by raising more animals.

How do we change the system?

For several decades, agricultural policy in the U.S. has been based on this “get big or get out” approach, which is incompatible with a sustainable food system for consumers and producers. That’s why Food & Water Watch is working with our allies to change the rules, by making the Environmental Protection Agency regulate the waste from factory farms and reining in the giant meat companies to create a fair market for livestock so farmers could actually make a living without turning their operation into a factory farm.

For more information, download Factory Farm Nation: 2015 Edition the complementary report to the Factory Farm Map.

See how we created the map.

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