What is Animal Farming and How does it Affect us?
The Humane Society International, are one of the forerunners when it comes to championing animal rights, laws, environmental issues and spreading awareness. When the tough questions are being asked, they are the ones who have access to the right research and information to give you the answers and the knowledge you require. We asked them about Industrial agriculture or Animal Faming and how it impacts our daily lives – here is what they have to say.
An ever-increasing proportion of animals are raised and reared for milk and eggs industrially - that is, in facilities that concentrate large numbers of animals, plus their waste, in a limited geographical area. In India, just six large poultry companies account for nearly 40 percent of the egg industry, whilst worldwide, industrial systems account for approximately two-thirds of egg and poultry meat production.
With industrial agriculture rapidly increasing in developing economies, it is important for us to establish what the cost of this production really is. Whether vegetarian, vegan or a die-hard meat-eater, consumers across the spectrum seem to now agree on one thing: large-scale industrial animal agriculture systems have negative impacts on rural communities, rural livelihoods, animal welfare and our environment.
Cost to Local Farmers
Industrialised agriculture systems are disadvantageous to small farmers and rural labourers because animal production is concentrated into the hands of a few large corporations. ‘Backyard’ farmers are at worst excluded from the market, and at best reduced to the role of contract farmers. Even when industrialized agriculture creates ‘on-farm’ jobs, because of the centralization of production, these cannot possibly compensate for the numbers of small-scale farmers leaving the market.
Cost to the Environment
The environmental implications of industrialized farm animal production are equally stark. Raising animals for food requires substantially greater quantities of water than raising plants for humans to eat. Globally, more than 60 percent of corn and barley, and more than 97 percent of soy meal, are fed to farm animals – a massive strain on already scarce water resources, which is only set to intensify if livestock farming continues to industrialize.
While any form of livestock farming requires large water inputs, and can contribute to the pollution of water sources, the problems are exacerbated within industrial animal production systems. Industrial operations consume water for cleaning enclosures, disposing of waste, cooling animals and processing animal products.
The same goes for climate change. The farm animal sector is a significant contributor to the emission of greenhouse gases. Farm animal production alone is projected to emit over two-thirds of the amount of greenhouse gases considered sustainable by 2050. Forested land continues to be cleared to allow farm animals to graze, intensifying climate change and destroying animal habitats.
Climate change itself has a knock-on effect for food security. The International Panel on Climate Change warns that warming temperatures could result in food shortages for 130 million people across Asia by 2050.
Animal consumption is unequal
Although India is one of the top egg and chicken meat producers in the world, at the start of the 21st Century, people in the lowest income quintile in rural areas were consuming fewer than ten eggs per capita per year. Egg consumption in urban areas was almost five times greater. Nutritional inequalities have increased as production has industrialized.
Yes, the advent of industrialized animal agriculture has resulted in a higher worldwide consumption of eggs, meat and milk; but the people consuming these products are, for the most part, not from marginalized groups. Instead, they are largely in developed economies, and in developing economies, they are largely from urban and higher-income groups.
Consumers can be the solution
Purchasing decisions are one way to tackle the problems associated with industrial farm animal production. Increasingly, those who continue to eat animal proteins are seeking out their products from local, free-range sources. They’re also eating more meat-free and dairy-free foods. Consumers are also supporting the work of animal welfare organizations that work to ensure better conditions for farm animals worldwide. In a rapidly developing nation such as ours, it is impossible to ignore the implications of an increasingly industrialized farming system on our environment and food security.
Humane Society International India works with policy makers, corporations and law enforcement officials to end the intensive confinement of hens in battery cages and to enforce animal protection laws in relation to transport and slaughter of farm animals. As a consumer, you can help animals by joining millions of people all across the world in reducing the number of animal products you consume, replacing them with vegetarian products, and choosing animal products from sources that adhere to higher animal welfare standards when possible.
We agree with HSI, any steps taken towards a more conscious lifestyle is beneficial to all. However, at veganfirst.com we believe that the true solution to this and other issues that are plaguing our planet is to live a vegan lifestyle. Animal farming should no longer be allowed to expand at the cost to our animals, our environment and our resources. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.
Article written by N.G. Jayasimha, managing director of Humane Society International India
Read more: The Truth Behind The Fishing Industry
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