What are Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation facilities? How do these affect us and the local economy? More importantly, how do they contribute in supplying meat to our favorite local burger joints?
Livestock farming has undergone significant developments in the past few years. Production has shifted from smaller, family-owned farms to more efficient large farms and facilities. In addition to these developments, modern farms have also become much more efficient in terms of the rate of producing goods. In fact, milk production has doubled, meat production has tripled, and egg production has quadrupled since the 1960’s.
A concentrated animal feeding operation is just one example of these advancements. These CAFOs are an animal feeding operations that confine animals for more than 45 days during a growing season, in an area that does not produce vegetation, and meets certain size thresholds. A Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation or CAFO is also known as a specific type of large-scale industrial agricultural facility that raises animals, usually at high-density, for the consumption of meat, eggs, or milk.
When properly managed, located, and monitored, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations can provide a low-cost source of meat, milk, and eggs, due to efficient feeding and housing of animals, increased facility size, and animal specialization. This means that our local supermarkets will be adequately supplied, and our local burger joints will have enough beef to make our big burgers!
In addition, CAFOs have been shown to benefit and enhance the local economy by increasing employment opportunities. The effects of using local materials, feed, and livestock are argued to ripple throughout the economy, and increased tax expenditures will lead to increase funds for schools and infrastructure.
However, concentrated animal feeding operations can cause a myriad of environmental and public health problems. Some of which include polluting ground and surface water, reduction of air quality, and emission of greenhouse gases. While they can be maintained and operated properly, it is important to ensure that they are routinely monitored to avoid harm to the surrounding community.