Environmental effects of consolidating farms

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), AFOs are "agricultural operations where animals are kept and raised in confined situations" and they "congregate animals, feed, manure, dead animals, and production operations on a small land area." In order to be classified as an AFO, a lot or facility must have animals that "are, or will be stabled or confined and fed or maintained for a total of 45 days or more in any 12-month period" and "crops, vegetation, forage growth, or post-harvest residues are not sustained in the normal growing season over any portion of the lot or facility".) is defined according to the number of animals in an operation.Animal production has gotten so far from the traditional methods of farming that the government no longer refers to these operations as farms.They are now called "Animal Feeding Operations" (AFO).Industrially produced food appears to be inexpensive, but the price tag doesn't reflect the actual costs that we taxpayers bear.Monocultures and factory farms pollute communities and adversely affect public health, thereby increasing medical costs for those living near such farms--costs that are often shouldered by public budgets.The farmer is also responsible for following waste disposal regulations and other environmental protection laws.Throughout the process, the corporation maintains full control in this arrangement, often causing the farmers to lose power by growing dependent upon the companies for "inputs" (seed, fertilizer, animals, feed, etc..) and know-how.

This allows the corporation to control the variety or breed product and all inputs (feed, fertilizers, etc).While vertical integration in some areas of industry is fine (it is a proven method to maximize profits), it has dire consequences in the case of agriculture, especially when combined with contract farming, since the farmers take all the risk and the companies receive the benefits.Vertical integration and contract farming forces farmers into debt, supports farming practices that harm the environment and abuse animals, and compromises the quality of the food we eat and the soil on which it is grown.This loss of knowhow and the need to keep costs low reduces a farmer from a steward to the land to someone who manages an industrial process.

is a management arrangement where several steps in the production and/or distribution of a product or service are controlled by a single company or entity, in order to increase that company's or entity's power in the marketplace.Drive through Iowa and you can get a clear picture of industrial agriculture: the landscape is dominated by miles and miles of mostly two crops - corn and soybeans.

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