In July, Gov. Tina Kotek signed Oregon Senate Bill 85, which places a moratorium on factory farms’ ability to use unlimited amounts of groundwater. While some advocates consider the bill to be a diluted compromise, it has potential to significantly limit the destructive activities of CAFOs in a state where a healthy remnant of the family farming economy still thrives. On a national level, it represents the first major state legislative victory against factory farming in the U.S. in years. SB 85 is the product of a years-long organizing effort, whose ultimate goal is to pass a full moratorium on new factory farms in Oregon.
Decades of industrial agriculture have caused environmental and social damage across the globe. Soils have deteriorated and plant and animal species are disappearing. Landscapes are degraded and small-scale farmers are struggling. It’s little wonder we’re looking for more sustainable and just ways of growing food and fibre. Regenerative agriculture is one alternative creating a lot of buzz, especially in rich, industrially developed countries. The term “regenerative agriculture” was coined in the 1970s. It’s generally understood to mean farming that improves, rather than degrades, landscape and ecological processes such as water, nutrient and carbon cycles.
How should the global agricultural system change in order to prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis? A group of young activists believe the answer is a global shift towards plant-based diets, and they are not afraid to make their voices heard. The campaigners disrupted a meeting at the UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany, on Friday to call for a Plant Based Treaty. “This is a do or die decade, particularly when it comes to the methane crisis,” Plant Based Treaty campaigner Yael Hanna said in a press release emailed to EcoWatch. “We need an immediate and rapid shift away from animal-based foods to plant-based foods in response to the climate emergency. The science presented by the IPCC is irrefutable, a vegan diet is the optimal diet for the planet and we need to negotiate a Plant Based Treaty now.”
Abbotsford, B.C., Canada – It’s been three years since two hundred animal rights advocates descended on the Excelsior Hog Farm on April 28, 2019 “to expose the reality of what is happening to the victims of the ‘meat’ industry and to challenge the current mindset within our society,” according to the activist group Meat The Victims. Over a year later, a total of four activists were facing multiple charges, however today, three of them stand trial at the end of June 2022. During the farm action, approximately 50 of the activists got inside the building where they witnessed deceased pigs in a dumpster, pigs laying on the ground unable to get up because of injuries, and “row upon row of pregnant pigs crammed inside metal crates the size of their own bodies, unable to even turn around or move for months on end.”
I’m currently facing a felony prosecution in Wright County after exposing Iowa Select Farms killing thousands of pigs via “ventilation shutdown," which involves shutting down a building’s vents as heat and steam are pumped in. The practice was so egregious that employees at the company sought the support of Direct Action Everywhere, the animal rights group I organize with, in exposing and ultimately stopping it. As recently reported by the Intercept, a high-level executive at the company was fired for raising his concerns, and FBI agents were called in to try to flip a whistleblower into becoming an informant against us. It’s all part of a long-term pattern: government support for an abusive and environmentally destructive industry, even to the point of intimidating and silencing its critics.
Meat giant JBS USA Holdings closed its Souderton, Pennsylvania slaughter operation. Tyson Foods closed its Columbus Junction, Iowa pork slaughterhouse. Pennsylvania-based Empire Kosher Poultry temporarily closed its doors and Sanderson Farms asked employees at its Moultrie, GA slaughter operation to stay home. COVID-19 has hit U.S. slaughterhouses big time. In addition to management-ruled closures, employees have also walked out because of the growing number of COVID-19 infected employees and the risks on site. In the midst of human deaths and hunts for ventilators, media are not focusing on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic but they should. The tiger that tested positive for COVID-19 at the Bronx Zoo is a grim reminder that civet cats hosting a bat virus caused the original SARS virus and outbreak according to the Journal of Virology and COVID-19 is actually named SARS-CoV-2.
But that one promise provided a long-awaited positive sign for independent biologist Alexandra Morton, and Skwah First Nation elder Eddie Gardner, who have both been fighting for years to see open-net fish farms moved off the migratory routes of Fraser River wild salmon runs. The PM’s letter pledges to: “Work with the province of British Columbia and Indigenous communities to create a responsible plan to transition from open net-pen salmon farming in coastal British Columbia waters by 2025, and begin work to introduce Canada’s first-ever Aquaculture Act.”
As the truck speeds off, the three figures scramble quietly off the highway shoulder and into a terrain of scrub brush and jagged gullies. For the next 15 minutes, they walk down an unlit dirt road in near total darkness; even the waning moon’s sliver of light is hidden behind clouds. But their noses tell them they’re in the right place. They’re engulfed in a smell that intensifies as they walk: a blend of barnyard animal, excrement, and decaying flesh. The silence is interrupted only by the crunch of their feet on the sand and then, after a few minutes, sporadic, far-off guttural animal bellowing.
IN THE FALL of 2017, Glenn Greenwald reported on a nationwide FBI manhunt for two pigs named Lily and Lizzie. The pigs had been removed from a factory farm in Utah by animal rights activists from a group called Direct Action Everywhere. From the perspective of the activists, the pigs were rescued. From the perspective of Smithfield Farms, the Chinese-owned multinational corporation that owns the factory farm, they were stolen. Direct Action Everywhere, also known as DxE, engages in a practice called “open rescue.” Open rescue involves entering, without authorization, the facilities of animal-based industries, such as farms, slaughterhouses, and puppy mills...
Fortunately, many people in 2018 see the writing on the wall. In fact, around 47 percent of US adults support a ban on slaughterhouses. Everyone wants to stand on the right side of history. Take it from Tom Hayes, CEO of Tyson Foods, the world’s second-largest meat processor. He said, “Plant protein is growing faster than animal protein. For us, we want to be where the consumer is.” Or as business magnate Richard Branson said, “I believe that in 30 years or so we will no longer need to kill any animals and that all meat will either be clean or plant-based, taste the same and also be much healthier for everyone.”
Broiler chickens (chickens raised for meat) are the top agricultural commodity in North Carolina. In 2015, 823 million broiler chickens were raised in the state. (Photo credit: North Carolina Department of Agriculture). In 1999, Hurricane Floyd tore through North Carolina, killing 74 people and causing $6.5 billion in damage. But it didn't just destroy towns and claim human lives; it also claimed the lives of millions of farm animals. The images are impossible to forget: lifeless pigs floating in flood water, thousands of dead chickens inside a factory farm and a few live pigs huddling on top of a barn almost completely submerged under water.
Factory farming and fish production are now a multi-trillion-dollar monster with a growing and devastating impact on public health, animal welfare, small farmers and farmworkers, rural and fishing communities, ocean marine life, water quality, air pollution, soil health, biodiversity and last but not least, global warming. Worldwide, two-thirds of all farm animals are now inhumanely imprisoned on highly-polluting factory farms, fed pesticide- and chemical-contaminated grains and GMOs, often supplemented with contaminated fish meal and oils, and routinely dosed with antibiotics and hormones. In the U.S., 90-95 percent of all dairy, meat and poultry come from industrial-scale factory farms, while more than half of all fish consumed comes from factory-scale fish farms.
Our current food system has a large negative impact on the climate crisis and our health. Factory farms produce large amounts of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs), pollute the land, air and water and deplete the nutrients in soil. We are eating foods that contain low levels of nutrients and contain hormones, antibiotics and pesticides that harm our health. Regenerative farming techniques ameliorate these problems by restoring the nutrients to the soil, lowering the need for chemicals (and water) and sequestering carbon. We speak with Pat Kerrigan of Organic Consumers Association
“We are pro agriculture. We support responsible, respectful and regenerative livestock production that poses no harm to communities and the environment. And we call for a moratorium on new and expanding CAFOs until there are less than 100 water impairments in Iowa. We are here today to support and announce a slate of bills introduced by Sen. David Johnson to close many of the loopholes that weaken protections for people and the environment from factory farms.” After Rosenberg spoke, a local farmer whose family farm is under threat thanks to two new CAFOs in her neighborhood, explained how her community did everything to stop these factory farms, but “the system in Iowa failed us. The DNR regulations failed us. All we want is clean air and water. We want to continue to live on our family farms.”
By Dharna Noor for The Real News Network - DHARNA NOOR: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Dharna Noor joining you from Baltimore. There's a growing awareness that meat production puts a strain on water, land use and habitats, and that it increases greenhouse gas emissions, which drives climate change. But few know the largest environmental impact actually comes from what the animals are being fed. To discuss a recent study on this topic, it's from the UK branch of the World Wildlife Fund, and it's titled Appetite for Destruction. We're joined by Duncan Williamson. He's the food policy manager for WWF UK. Thanks for joining us today, Duncan. D. WILLIAMSON: Well, thank you very much for having me. DHARNA NOOR: So, your recent report says that producing crops to feed livestock is putting an enormous strain on our natural resources, and it's a driving force behind wide scale biodiversity loss. How does livestock feed actually have that kind of impact? D. WILLIAMSON: It's two things. It's the numbers of animals that we're producing globally, and where we are growing the crops to feed them, so for example, we know there's 23 billion poultry animals on the world at the moment. That's enough for three animals each basically, and most of these animals are grown in intensive systems, so they don't have access to the outside, so they have to be fed on something, and their feed tends to be maize and soy.