Facts about factory farming
1. Global Warming
The majority of global warming is caused by the gases carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. According
to the 2006 United Nations report, Livestock's Long Shadow, animal agriculture generates 18 percent of greenhouse
gas emissions, including 9 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, 37 percent of methane emissions and 65 percent
of nitrous oxide emissions worldwide.
Animals raised for food in the U.S. produce more manure than people. This manure is not treated and is stored in
lagoons or sprayed onto crops. As it decomposes, urine and manure from farm animals releases hazardous gases
into the atmosphere. Manure from factory farm operations contains pollutants such as antibiotics, pathogens, heavy
metals, nitrogen and phosphorous, which, through manure lagoon leaks or spills enter into the environment and
threaten water quality across the country.
3. Land use
Vast tracts of land are being destroyed to fuel the world's growing addition to meat, dairy and eggs. Scientists
at the Smithsonian Institute say that the equivalent of seven football fields is bulldozed every minute for animal
agriculture. Hundreds of millions of acres of forests and rainforests worldwide have already been cleared for
livestock grazing or animal feed crops, resulting in a loss of biodiversity and additional CO2 being released
into the atmosphere.
Growing crops to feed animals is a very inefficient system that wastes valuable resources. It takes an average
of 16 pounds of grain to produce just one pound of beef and takes 11 times as much fossil fuel to make 1 calorie
from animal protein as 1 calorie from plant protein.
5. Water usage
It takes an estimated 4,000 gallons of water to produce one day of animal-based food for the average American.
One day of plant-based food only requires about 300 gallons. According to the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm
Animal Production, "87 percent of the use of freshwater in the U.S. is used in agriculture, primarily irrigation."
Worldwide, agriculture accounts for 93 percent of water depletion, with the vast majority of freshwater used
for farm animal feed production. Factory farming wastes so much water that you can save as much water by not
eating a pound of beef as you can by not showering for almost six months.
6. Air Pollution
The EPA reports that roughly 80 percent of ammonia emissions in the United
States come from animal waste. Atmospheric ammonia can disrupt aquatic ecosystems, ruin soil
quality, damage crops and jeopardize human health.
7. Water pollution
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), agriculture is the
single largest source of water pollution in rivers and lakes, and the waste from factory farms is
a significant part of the problem. In fact, waste generated by factory farms has already polluted
over 35,000 miles of river in 22 states and has contaminated groundwater in 17 states.