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Factory farming is a term referring to the process of raising livestock in confinement at high stocking density, where a farm operates as a factory

Confinement at high stocking density is one part of a systematic effort to produce the highest output at the lowest cost by relying on economies of scale, modern machinery, biotechnology, and global trade. Confinement at high stocking density requires antibiotics and pesticides to mitigate the spread of disease and pestilence exacerbated by these crowded living conditions

Characteristics
Factory farms hold large numbers of animals, typically cows, pigs, turkeys, or chickens, often indoors, typically at high densities. The aim of the operation is to produce as much meat, eggs, or milk at the lowest possible cost. Food is supplied in place, and a wide variety of artificial methods are employed to maintain animal health and improve production, such as the use of antimicrobial agents, vitamin supplements, and growth hormones. Physical restraints are used to control movement or actions regarded as undesirable. Breeding programs are used to produce animals more suited to the confined conditions and able to provide a consistent food product.

Environmental impacts of factory farming can include:
  • Deforestation for animal feed production
  • Unsustainable pressure on land for production of high-protein/high-energy animal feed
  • Pollution of soil, water and air by nitrogen and phosphorus from fertiliser used for feed-crops and from manure
  • Worldwide reduction of genetic diversity of livestock and loss of traditional breeds

Animal welfare impact
Animal welfare impacts of factory farming can include:
  • Close confinement systems (cages, crates) or lifetime confinement in indoor sheds
  • Fast-spreading infections encouraged by crowding and stress in intensive conditions
  • Debeaking (beak amputation without pain killer) in the poultry and egg insustry to avoid pecking in overcrowded quarters quarters

Aspects of factory farming

  • Low monetary cost — Intensive agriculture tends to produce food that can be sold at lower cost to consumers.
  • Standardization — Factory farming methods permit increased consistency and control over product output.
  • Efficiency — Animals in confinement can be supervised more closely than free-ranging animals, and diseased animals can be treated faster.
  • Diseases – Intensive farming may make the evolution and spread of harmful diseases easier. Many communicable animal diseases spread rapidly through densely spaced populations of animals and crowding makes genetic reassortment more likely. However small family farms are more likely to introduce bird diseases and more frequent association with people into the mix, as happened in the recent 2009 flu pandemic69 Some evidence suggests that antibiotic use in agriculture has contributed to antibiotic resistance in humans.
  • Pollution — Large quantities and concentrations of waste are produced. Lakes, rivers, and groundwater are at risk when animal waste is improperly recycled. Pollutant gases are also emitted. Concentrations of animals can produce unacceptable levels of foul smells as opposed to the tolerable odours of the countryside. In less intensive conditions, natural processes can break down potential pollutants. Large farms can maintain and operate sophisticated systems to control waste products. Smaller farms may or may not be less able to invest in the same standards of pollution control.
  • Destruction of biodiversity — A tendency towards using a monoculture of single adapted breeds in factory farming, both in arable and animal farming, gives uniform product designed for high yields, at the risk of increased susceptibility to disease. The loss of locally adapted breeds reduces the resilience of the agricultural system. The issue is not limited to factory farming and historically the problem is reflected in the rapid adoption of one or two strains of crops across a wide area as seen in the Irish potato famine of 1845 and the Bengal rice famine in 1942. The loss of the gene pool of domesticated animals limits the ability to adapt to future problems.

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Industrial Farming
Definition: Industrial agriculture is the current stage of commercial agriculture resulting from the shift of the farm as the center of production to a position as just one step in a process that begins on the farm and ends at the table of the consumer.
-assembly line production of food
-could include factory farms but is more than just that / it includes all processed foods
-note that it says modern or current and therefore only the most recent practices should be included with this


New developments relate to:
Shelf Life and Profit
Cheaper Ways to Produce Food / Profit
Commercialization of Farming
Non-local foods
Processed foods
Could include factory farms as part of it but is not limited to that


Benefits
  • Reduction of financial risks and capital outlay as family farms decline, corporations take more of the financial risk and they are more capable of handling the potential risk.
  • Economies of scale would reduce the cost of the product and provide more uniformity
  • Access to more distant markets - Industrialization of agriculture and commercialization of the farm has given farms access to markets further than just the nearest city

Impacts
  • Use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to manage monoculture crops potentially releases toxic chemicals into rivers and groundwater as well as the food itself
  • Use of irrigation. These farms can be large and perhaps excessively large which would put a strain on the local water supply
  • Biotechnology (GMOs) results in farmers would mean loss of genetic diversity (loss of biodiversity) and potentially represent a danger to the environment and present health concerns for the consumer