February 23, 2012

What's with this 'Factory Farm' business?

Almost all of us have heard the words “Factory Farming” before. It gets used a lot these days by groups who oppose modern agriculture, and unfortunately these words have now trickled down to the consumer. Groups that oppose modern agriculture use these words to portray agriculture as an industry that is full of pollutants, and an industry that doesn’t care about the land or the animals and is only concerned about profits.

These groups also believe that technology doesn’t belong in agriculture. They suggest that modern agriculture today is like a factory and that farming should return to how it was back in the 1930s, where everything was done by hand.

While their argument can be interesting, it is far from the truth. How can I say that one may ask? First, when I think of the word factory, I think of large buildings with smoke stacks and a gloomy sky. However, I have never seen this on a farm nor does it come to my mind when I think of farms. When I think of farming, I think of the family farmers who take care of both the land and their animals, and who work hard to feed a growing population. I think of farmers who are using new technologies, such as GM crops, to help conserve our resources for future generations. I think of the farmers who use housing to protect their animals from brutal weather conditions and also from predators. What I see farmers doing is trying to be innovative in the way food is produced for the growing world population. I mean, isn’t America all about innovation?

So the word use of “Factory Farms” is nonsense in my opinion from the fact that factory farms don’t exist. What do exist are farms that are family owned. These farmers do care for the land and their animals.  Not only are these farmers caring for their land and animals, but they care about their local communities. They are involved in local organizations and many of them make donations to support local projects. So next time you hear or see the words “factory farming”, think about what I just said, and if factory farming means being innovative in smart ways, then it must be a compliment instead of criticism.


  1. I understand your sentiments and appreciate your writing. I am a lifelong Nebraskan, and my family continues to farm. But I do disagree that factory farms don't exist. Modern hog confinement facilities, poultry and egg producing facilities and even mega feedlots are examples of factories, with livestock as the mechanism. While American farmers do need to "feed the world" and it takes modern methods to do the job, you can't deny that because of the scale, these facilities are open to the criticism of creating pollution, being cruel to animals and not good community neighbors. I would hope that the ingenuity of America's farmers could explore better options in the future.

    1. Thanks for reading the blog and also for sharing your view! While I can see your point on the factory farms part, I feel that it isn't right to label family farms "factories" because of the methods they use. Many of the family farmers (both small and large) that do run feedlots and raise their hogs and poultry using indoor housing care just as much about their animals as the people who don't use those methods. Also, I do believe that many of these farmers do try to be good stewards of the land and good neighbors, no matter the scale of their farm. Thank you again for sharing your view, it is always good to have friendly dialogue about these important issues.