Inhumane treatment of animals, psychological consequences, and atmospheric pollution – all of these unfavorable situations have one thing in common: factory farms. Although there are many pressing environmental issues today, those that arise due to commercial farming make this industry most detrimental.
As soon as any act hinders the quality of life of another living creature, it may be considered inhumane. In Jaya Bhumitra’s “Why Factory Farming Is a Broken System Where Extreme Animal Cruelty and Abuse Is the Norm”, the author prefaces with information regarding the reality of the commonality of abuse on factory farms.
She explains that, “Pigs and cows are confined by the thousands — and birds by the hundreds of thousands” (Bhumitra 1). Due to this overcrowding, the quality of animals’ lives is lowered remarkably. The author then goes on to explain how some individual types of animals on factory farms are kept; she specifies how “several” egg-laying hens are kept in “battery cagehouses [that provide] each bird with no more space than the face of an iPad” (Bhumitra 2).
Vastly restrictive, these conditions put tremendous stress on their inhabitants. Bhumitra even then continues on to describe the “hellish conditions” in which veal calves are kept (2). Already, this industry has proved itself worth rallying against just in its construction alone. Imposing such conditions on voiceless animals provides a new definition to the word inhumane.
Beyond being confined, commercial farm animals are also directly mistreated. Bhumitra explains some of the physical abuse they are forced to undergo such as chickens’ beaks being seared off, piglets’ teeth and tails being clipped, cows’ tails being cut, pigs’ testicles being removed – all without painkillers (Bhumitra 3).
In addition to infringing upon both the animals’ welfare and rights as living creatures, having to administer such cruelties to other living creatures puts farm workers at risk of distress, as well. Where animals are required to perform a certain way by means of force, workers are forced to require certain performance of the animals in order to keep their jobs. It’s a vicious cycle that creates for “hellish conditions” for humans and animals alike. Clearly, this industry negatively impacts psychological environments in multiple ways; not only is it apparent that the animals face emotional distress, but so do those who have to administer the cruel treatment. To be able to effectively carry out their job, however, “workers become desensitized to the misery of the animals, and the inevitable result is the everyday brutality documented by nearly every undercover video recorded on a factory farm” (Bhumitra 3). Using any means necessary, workers are forced to separate themselves from the atrocities that they’re committing in order to cope and continue on in their work.
Despite the horrors within the article, it concludes with optimism. Bhumitra explains that people’s concerns with the industry are beginning to be recognized; she says, “It’s never been clearer that the days are numbered for factory farms that intensively confine, painfully mutilate, and otherwise injure animals for profit” (3). Though the industry is moving towards improvement, there is still much corruption that exists within it. In “Animal Cruelty Is the Price We Pay for Cheap Meat”, the author, Paul Solotaroff, describes the conditions of factory farms with the platform of firsthand experiences of and the undercover footage provided by members the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). He explains that undercover investigations are ‘performing a service that the federal government can’t, or won’t, render: keeping an eye on the way American meat is grown’ (Solotaroff 3). Solotaroff vividly describes the animals’ less-than-ideal living conditions, and details some of the poor treatment witnessed by undercover investigators. Furthermore, he draws attention to the fact that commercial farms are attempting to have “Ag-Gag” bills passed which will then, “[make] it illegal to take a farm job undercover”, amongst other things (Solotaroff 3). Since agencies such as the HSUS have pledged to stay law-abiding, these bills make it impossible for them to monitor factory farms (Solotaroff 4). These precautions make it very evident that the farms do, indeed, have something to hide.
Finally, commercial farms coincide with the natural and physical aspects of the environment, as well. By displacing these animals from their natural environments for personal gain, people pose a detriment to both the animals’ physical well being, and also the natural balance of the earth. These foreign situations contribute to the high-stress levels and unhealthiness of the animals. For example, “cows and pigs aren’t built to live indoors; they get sick and depressed, go after one another and kill or eat their young in despair” (Solotaroff 6). If this practice did not take place, animals would not act so uncharacteristically and pose such a threat to their own wellbeing. Beyond this, though, commercial farming also poses a threat to the actual physical environment. In an article discussing soil depletion, Charalampos Michalopoulos explains that, “One of the main environmental impacts of concentrated animal feeding operations is soil degradation in the vicinity of the livestock breeding facilities due to substances such as ammonia emitted from the various stages of the process.”
This is important because it is contributing to the exhaustion of natural resources that humans are using faster than said resources can be replenished. Ronald Amundson – a UC Berkley professor of environmental science, policy, and management – stated, “Ever since humans developed agriculture, we’ve been transforming the planet and throwing the soil’s nutrient cycle out of balance.” This will prove itself harmful to mankind’s wellbeing due to soil’s coming inability to sustain life and grow our food. Amudson goes on to explain that, “Because the changes happen slowly, often taking two to three generations to be noticed, people are not cognizant of the geological transformation taking place.” Therefore, due to ignorance, people are harming the earth, which, in turn, harms themselves.
To conclude, factory farming is detrimental for many reasons; it is posing a threat to the natural world, the physical being of animals, and the mental state of those people directly involved in the industry. If changes aren’t implemented soon, commercial farms stand to pose a huge threat to the wellbeing of many different factors.