Intensive animal farming
Intensive animal farming or industrial livestock production, also known as factory farming by opponents of the practice, is a treatment towards farm animals in order to supply the vast, growing demand of meat. Intensive farming refers to animal husbandry, the keeping of livestock such as cattle, poultry, and fish at higher stocking densities than is usually the case with other forms of animal agriculture—a practice typical in industrial farming by agribusinesses. The main products of this industry are meat, milk and eggs for human consumption. There are issues regarding whether factory farming is sustainable and ethical.
- When factory farmers tell us that animals kept in 'intensive' (i.e. concentration) camps are being kindly spared the inclemency of a winter outdoors, and that calves do not mind being tethered for life on slats because they have never known anything else, an echo should start in our historical consciousness: do you remember how the childlike blackamoors were kindly spared the harsh responsibilities of freedom, how the skivvy didn't feel the hardship of scrubbing all day because she was used to it, how the poor didn't mind their slums because they had never known anything else?
- Brigid Brophy, "The Rights of Animals" (Sunday Times, 1965), in Don't Ever Forget: Collected Views and Reviews (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966), p. 17.
- God's Torah teaches us to refrain from inflicting unnecessary pain on any animal. And not only physical pain; an animal can suffer mental pain too. … It is an important part of Torah education to train children to respect animals as sensitive beings which should not be unnecessarily deprived of the joys of life. … It seems doubtful from all that has been said whether the Torah would sanction "factory farming," which treats animals as machines, with apparent insensitivity to their natural needs and instincts.
- Jesus' message is about love and compassion, but there is nothing loving or compassionate at factory farms and slaughterhouses, where billions of animals endure miserable lives and die violent deaths. Jesus mandates kindness and mercy for all God's creatures. He'd be appalled by the suffering that we inflict on animals today to indulge our acquired taste for their flesh. … When we sit down to eat, we can add to the violence, misery and death in the world, or we can respect God's creatures with a vegetarian diet. … There won't be any factory farms and slaughterhouses in heaven.
- FBI agents are devoting substantial resources to a multistate hunt for two baby piglets that the bureau believes are named Lucy and Ethel. [...] To an industry feeling endangered by growing public disgust over conditions at industrial farms — driven by scandals within the meat, pork, and poultry sectors — Lily and Lizzie are political and journalistic threats. Animals like them are vital for enabling animal rights activists to demonstrate to the public in a visceral, personalized way that this industry generates massive profit by monstrously and unnecessarily torturing living beings who are emotionally complex and experience great suffering.
- The Justice Department’s grave attention to a case of two missing piglets reflects how vigilantly the U.S. government uses extreme measures to protect the agricultural industry — not from unjust economic loss, violent crime, or theft, but from political embarrassment and accurate reporting that damages the industry’s reputation. A sweeping framework of draconian laws — designed to shield the industry from criticism and deter and punish its critics — has been enacted across the country by federal and state legislatures that are captive to the industry’s high-paid lobbyists. The most notorious of these measures are the “ag-gag” laws, which make publishing videos of farm conditions taken as part of undercover operations a felony, punishable by years in prison.
- The factory farm industry and its armies of lobbyists wield great influence in the halls of federal and state power, while animal rights activists wield virtually none. This imbalance has produced increasingly oppressive laws, accompanied by massive law enforcement resources devoted to punishing animal activists even for the most inconsequential nonviolent infractions — as the FBI search warrant and raid in search of “Lucy and Ethel” illustrates. The U.S. government, of course, has always protected and served the interests of industry. Beginning when most of the nation was fed by small farms, federal agencies have been particularly protective of agricultural industry. That loyalty has only intensified as family farms have nearly disappeared, replaced by industrial factory farms where animals are viewed purely as commodities, instruments for profit, and treated with unconstrained cruelty. [...] In other words, both the legislative process and law enforcement agencies are being blatantly exploited — misused — to protect not the property rights but the reputational interests of this industry. Having the FBI — in the midst of real domestic terrorism threats, hurricane-ravaged communities, and intricate corporate criminality — send agents around the country to animal sanctuaries in search of DNA samples for two missing piglets may seem like overkill to the point of being laughable. But it is entirely unsurprising in the context of how law enforcement resources are used, and on whose behalf.
- I have seen many individuals and groups promoting animal rights and following a vegetarian diet. This is excellent. Certain killing is purely a "luxury." … But perhaps the saddest is factory farming. The poor animals there really suffer. I once visited a poultry farm in Japan where they keep 200,000 hens for two years just for their eggs. During those two years, they are prisoners. Then after two years, when they are no longer productive, the hens are sold. That is really shocking, really sad. We must support those who are attempting to reduce that kind of unfair treatment.
- Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama, interview in Worlds in Harmony: Dialogues on Compassionate Action (Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1992), pp. 20-21.
- I initially became a vegetarian for this reason: I have a great hatred for the treatment of animals in what we call factory farms. That, I felt, was one of the most horrible and bestial things, and I was constantly protesting about it. Then, when I protested, somebody would say to me, "Do you eat meat?" And if I said, "yes," then they would say, "Well, how do you know that that isn't made in this way?" And I realized that if I were to remain a meat-eater that I couldn't go on protesting. So that was the actual impulse. But since then I've come to feel that it does purify one, and I would find it very abhorrent to go back to eating meat. I've found that it has got a spiritual significance, but my initial motive was that—to be able to give a valid answer to that. … [Have you ever visited the factory farms?] Well, I have seen them. I've seen the chicken ones, which are quite horrifying. And I have put my head in others. But the whole thing nauseates me more than I can tell you. To see meat produced in that way made it impossible for me to eat meat.
- Many dogs, cats and horses are loved and cherished, and are even mourned when they die. But pigs, chickens, calves and other animals grown in factory farms are treated in the most brutal and exploitative way, devoid of all affection. They are units in a production line; their only purpose is to produce the maximum amount of food at the minimum cost. Factory farms epitomize the mechanistic spirit. … To justify this treatment, the less-favoured animals have to be regarded as inferior, unworthy of any sentimental attachment. A terrible conflict arises if the exploited animals are considered to have any value in themselves. One way to avoid this conflict is to keep the privileged and the exploited animals in separate categories in our minds. … But if emotions spill over from pets to other animals, there is trouble. People become vegetarians, or even animal rights activists.
- Rupert Sheldrake, Seven Experiments That Could Change the World (London: Fourth Estate, 1994), p. 24.
- We’ve been bombarded with nauseating narratives about the evils of factory farming for over 40 years. The fact that we have not, as a collective gesture of consumer outrage, monkey wrenched these hellholes into oblivion speaks either to the human tendency to procrastinate or, worse, our pathological indifference.