All About Animal Factories
The modern farm looks nothing like the lush fields with happy animals pictured on packages in the supermarket. After World War II, an industrialized approach emphasizing the bottom line rather than planet and consumer welfare muscled out the small-scale, organic way of farming common up to then. Today, nearly all meat in restaurants and stores is a product of factory farms or CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) which contain thousands of animals crammed into warehouses where they never get exercise or see the light of day. For more info, click here.
CAFO owners do this to cut costs and raise production levels. To stave off disease and encourage growth, they feed the animals huge amounts of antibiotics. These methods have hidden costs including a host of environmental problems; the Michigan Chapter began noticing soon after CAFOs popped up in the state in the 1990s. There are more than 200 in Michigan now. Here' s a map showing where they're located.
With the help of volunteers, we’ve been tracking the impact on our waterways and air of the millions of gallons of manure generated by these “farms.” We’ve been on the frontlines of the fight to get state regulators to hold them accountable like any other polluting corporation. We’ve filed lawsuits, lobbied legislators and held press conferences to raise the profile of this issue. For a timeline of our work on factory farms, click here.
WE CAN'T WIN THIS BATTLE WITHOUT YOUR HELP. HERE'S WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1. Join CNN, our CAFO Neighbors Network, and become a spokesperson in your community – We need people to talk to the media and field questions from the public about factory farms. We also need folks to distribute information at events such as farmers markets. Contact Gail Philbin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 517-484-2372, ext. 16.
2. Become a volunteer water monitor for the Michigan Chapter. We're assembling crews around the state to document pollution in streams, rivers and lakes near animal factories that will help us build a case against these facilities. For details, email Rita Chapman.
3. Hold a CAFO House Party – These are informal parties at the homes of supporters who want to shut down factory farms in Michigan. Simply invite your friends and neighbors and we’ll do the rest! To host one, contact Gail Philbin at email@example.com.
4. Learn how to shut down a CAFO or kill a proposal for a new one – The most powerful member of our CAFO team is you, the volunteer. People like you serve as our eyes and ears and help us gather the evidence we need to inform state agencies about the polluting activities of factory farms. Click here to learn how you can help. Or download our Stop a CAFO Guide.
5. Support our efforts with a donation to the Michigan Chapter – With 200 factory farms in the state, our small staff has a lot of ground to cover and lawsuits can be costly as well. Any gift you can make to the Michigan Chapter will make us more effective. To donate, click here.
Combat CAFO pollution in your backyard! Become a water monitor. For details, email Rita Chapman
Want to do more? Buy your food directly from local, sustainable farmers. Check out these resources:
Community Support Agriculture (CSA)
Farms in Your Area
West Michigan Coopan online farmers market linking local farmers to local consumers
Sustainable Tableeverything you ever wanted to know about your food but were afraid to ask
Farm Aidsupports small, family farms tand has information about food labels
Food and Water WatchConsumer watchdog group that aims to ensure our food and water are safe
Map of factory farms in your state
Humane Society of the United StatesOne of the groups leading the fight against factory farming’s cruel practices