March 3, 2017 - Is The U.S. Shifting Away from Factory Farming?

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Friday, March 3, 2017
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 The vast majority of U.S. farm animals are now raised on factory farms. However, trends quietly happening now may bring about drastic change in the future.

According to ASPCA Farm Welfare director Daisy Freund, “You’re seeing almost every major retailer, almost every major fast food producer and restaurant chain committing to phasing out the use of battery cages and/or gestation crates. We are going beyond our dreams here, and yet we’re really just getting started.”

Consider these symptoms of change:

  • More than 100 big brands, from Walmart to McDonalds, committing to phasing out battery cages for egg-laying hens over the next 3 to 10 years.
  • Many big brands are committing to phasing out gestation crates for pigs.
  • Big brands including Whole Foods, Aramark, and Compass committing to humane conditions for broiler chickens by 2024.
  • Ten states banning excessive animal confinement in one form or another, with Massachusetts passing the most comprehensive bill yet in November.
  • State legislatures are repeatedly rejecting "Ag-Gag" or "Right to Farm" bills that prohibit investigations into industrial farms, with the latest example in Oklahoma.
  • The USDA is introducing a new rule mandating better living conditions for organic-certified animal production facilities.

The market is shifting, and these developments could be enough to force producers to start adjusting their infrastructure to accommodate public concerns over animal welfare.

"In the last five years, especially, this has gone from being a fringe issue … to where it is now, where through investigations and media coverage and documentaries and corporate commitments to change, it’s increasingly clear to the American public that what’s happening on factory farms is unacceptable," said Freund.

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