Animal Production / Livestock Systems / North America / Pigs / Poultry / USA

Large-scale American livestock farmers and animal rights activists agree to compromise

‘Concessions by farmers in this state [Ohio] to sharply restrict the close confinement of hens, hogs and veal calves are the latest sign that so-called factory farming — a staple of modern agriculture that is seen by critics as inhumane and a threat to the environment and health — is on the verge of significant change.

‘A recent agreement between farmers and animal rights activists here is a rare compromise in the bitter and growing debate over large-scale, intensive methods of producing eggs and meat, and may well push farmers in other states to give ground, experts say. The rising consumer preference for more “natural” and local products and concerns about pollution and antibiotic use in giant livestock operations are also driving change.

‘The surprise truce in Ohio follows stronger limits imposed by California voters in 2008; there, extreme caging methods will be banned altogether by 2015. In another sign of the growing clout of the animal welfare movement, a law passed in California this year will also ban imports from other states of eggs produced in crowded cages. Similar limits were approved last year in Michigan and less sweeping restrictions have been adopted in Florida, Arizona and other states.

‘. . . In the mid-20th century, developments in animal nutrition and farm technologies as well as economic competition spurred the emergence of large-scale farms, often driving out small farmers who could not afford the large capital investments or survive the lower prices.’

More . . . (New York Times, Farmers lean to truce on animals’ close quarters, 11 August 2010)

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