More Information About the Impact of Factory Farms

  • An estimated 54 percent of livestock in the U.S. are now confined to just 5 percent of livestock farms.  These factory farms generate an estimated 575 billion pounds of animal waste each year.
  • This animal waste contains pathogen bacteria, including Salmonella, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, and E. Coli 0157:H7; heavy metals; nitrogen and phosphorus, which seriously degrade rivers and estuaries like the Chesapeake Bay; and an estimated 13 million pounds of antibiotics.
  • The routine feeding of antibiotics to animals in CAFOs is helping fuel the growing public health problem of antibiotic resistance among pathogens.
  • The waste from factory farms is typically contained in storage pits or lagoons, which can leak liquid manure and contaminate drinking supplies. CAFO-generated manure is often spread or sprayed on nearby cropland, posing additional risks to public health.
  • Increased numbers of factory farms in an area often are associated with declines in local economic and social indicators (e.g. business purchases, infrastructure, property values, population, social cohesion), which undermine the socioeconomic and social foundations of community health.
  • Many studies of CAFOs have documented respiratory problems, including chronic bronchitis and nonallergic asthma, in approximately 25 percent of factory farm workers.
  • Studies of people living near factory farms report eye and respiratory symptoms associated with CAFO air emissions.
  • The American Public Health Association has urged federal, state, and local governments and public health agencies to impose a moratorium on new factory farms until additional scientific data on the risks to public health have been collected and uncertainties resolved.

(Source: American Public Health Association, Precautionary Moratorium on New Concentrated Animal Feed Operations, Policy date 11/18/2003)