Sit down - if you're not already - and prepare for the bad news. The organization Food & Water Watch's "Factory Farm Map" has gone online and it paints a very grim picture. Have a look for yourself - http://www.factoryfarmmap.org - and you'll see a map of the United States inundated from coast to coast with factory farms in every state. The interactive map is loaded with all sorts of information, breaking down factory farms by animals (hogs, beef cattle, hens, etc.) and it includes information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's census data from 1997, 2002 and 2007.
Undoubtedly, the most discouraging finding from the organization is that between 2002 and 2007, the amount of livestock in America's biggest factory farms has increased 20 percent.
Here are some more findings quoted directly from Food & Water Watch's Factory Farm Map information:
o In five years, total animals on factory farms grew by 5 million, or more than 20 percent.
o Cows on factory dairy farms nearly doubled from 2.5 million cows in 1997 to 4.9 million in 2007. Factory dairy farms growth in western states like Idaho, California, New Mexico and Texas shifted the dairy industry away from traditional states like Wisconsin, New York and Michigan.
o Beef cattle on industrial feedlots rose 17 percent from 2002 to 2007 - adding about 1,100 beef cattle to feedlots every day for five years.
o Nationally, about 5,000 hogs were added to factory farms every day for the past decade.
o The growth of industrial broiler chicken production added 5,800 chickens every hour over the past decade.
o Egg laying hens on factory farms increased by one-quarter over the decade.
o The average size of factory farms increased by 9 percent in five years, cramming more animals into each operation.
o In 2007, the average factory-farmed dairy held nearly 1,500 cows and the average beef feedlot held 3,800 beef cattle.
o The average size of hog factory farms increased by 42 percent over a decade.
o Five states with the largest broiler chicken operations average more than 200,000 birds per factory farm. (Source)
Factory farms are gruesome industries. Not only do they brutally exterminate billions and billions of innocent animals, they have been shown - in study after study - to be some of the worst polluters in the world. They often end up filling nearby water supplies with toxic waste. They are poorly regulated. And the people who run them are obsessed with maximizing profits and, at best, give only lip service to adopting proper safety codes and adhering to industry standards.
It is clear from this map that these institutions are metastasizing like cancer, spreading to every part of the United States. I'm sure an interactive map of factory farms would paint an equally grim picture in Canada and other countries around the world. These businesses operate in our communities, carrying out the most violent slaughter imaginable behind high fences and thick walls, hiding horrors from the world because the men and women who run these rackets know that if everybody could see what happens inside, billions of people would convert to veganism.