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A key industry that can make a big difference in conserving the environment is farming. Currently, industrial farming or factory farming is the mainstay. An industrial farm is a large, industrial operation that raises large numbers of animals for food. Over 99% of farm animals in the U.S. are raised infactory farms, which focus on profit and efficiency at the expense of the animals’ welfare (www.aspca.org). Here are eleven reasons why factory farms need to become sustainable.
- About 10 billion land animals in the United States are raised for dairy, meat, and eggs each year.
- Factory farming accounts for 37% of methane (CH4) emissions, which has more than 20 times the global warming potential of CO2.
- Manure can also contain traces of salt and heavy metals, which can end up in bodies of water and accumulate in the sediment, concentrating as they move up the food chain.
- When manure is repeatedly overapplied to farm land it causes dangerous levels of phosphorus and nitrogen in the water supply. In such excessive amounts, nitrogen robs water of oxygen and destroys aquatic life.
- Burning fossil fuels to produce fertilizers for animal feed crops may emit 41 million metric tons of CO2 per year.
- Globally, deforestation for animal grazing and feed crops is estimated to emit 2.4 billion tons of CO2 every year.
- Corn, wheat, and rice, the fast-growing crops on which humanity depends for survival, are among the most nitrogen hungry of all plants.
- Large-scale animal factories often give animals antibiotics to promote growth, or to compensate for illness resulting from crowded conditions. These antibiotics enter the environment and the food chain.
- Factory farms contribute to air pollution by releasing compounds such as hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and methane.
- The US Department of Agriculture estimates that confined farm animals generate more than 450 million tonnes of manure annually, 3 times more raw waste than generated by Americans.
- The waste lagoons on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) not only pollute our groundwater, but deplete it as well. Many of the farms use the groundwater for cleaning, cooling, and drinking. (sourced from www.dosomething.org)