Industrial Farming

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Industrial farming has had an enormous impact on our environment and the world food system. In Leo Horrigan’s chapter in the May 2002 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives he stated, “Industrial agriculture depends on expensive inputs from off the farm (e.g., pesticides and fertilizer), many of which generate wastes that harm the environment” which reveals the high cost, both financially and environmentally, of using pesticides and fertilizer at an industrial level. Industrial agriculture also “uses large quantities of non-renewable fossil fuels; and it tends toward concentration of production, driving out small producers and undermining rural communities” (Horrigan 445).

In order to counteract the effects of industrial farming and the subsequent loss of natural resources, governments and farmers need to focus on sustainable agriculture. Sustainable agriculture includes crop rotation in order to interrupt pest reproduction, management of chemicals used within soil, less-toxic pest management, nutrient management, and crop diversity (Horrigan 446).

Another problem within industrial farming is the ecological costs associated with the production of meat, fish, and dairy. “During the last decade there has been an increase in both energy demand and specific energy consumption in the meat industry” within France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Germany (Ramirez). As Judith L. Capper found in her study of industrialized beef farming, through the “use of technologies that improve animal productivity in combination with intensive feedlot finishing systems demonstrably reduce both resource use and GHG emissions per unit of beef” (Capper). A more direct and possibly more effective route would be to target the diets of consumers by making meat and dairy products more expensive, either by direct taxation, or by taxing the environmental effects caused by their production, but that may be much more difficult.


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