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Robbins writes: "In the United States, egg factory farms cram more than 90 percent of the country's 280 million egg-laying hens into barren cages so small the birds can't even spread their wings."

Robbins: 'There are laws against cruelty to animals in the United States but most states specifically exempt animals destined for human consumption.' (photo: PETA)
Robbins: 'There are laws against cruelty to animals in the United States but most states specifically exempt animals destined for human consumption.' (photo: PETA)

Factory Farming's Days May Be Numbered

By Ocean Robbins, AlterNet

29 November 12


n one of history's most stunning victories for humane farming, Australia's largest supermarket chain, Coles, will as of January 1 stop selling company branded pork and eggs from animals kept in factory farms. As an immediate result, 34,000 mother pigs will no longer be kept in stalls for long periods of their lives, and 350,000 hens will be freed from cages.

Not to be outdone, the nation's other dominant supermarket chain, Woolworths, has already begun phasing out factory farmed animal products. In fact all of Woolworth's house brand eggs are now cage-free, and by mid-2013 all of their pork will come from farmers who operate stall-free farms.

Coles and Woolworths together account for a dominant 80 percent of all supermarket sales in Australia.

The move to open up the cages was fueled by "consumer sentiment," and it has been synchronous with amajor campaign against factory farming of animals led by Animals Australia. The campaign features a TV ad, titled "When Pigs Fly," in which an adorable piglet tells the story of animals sentenced to life in cramped cages, and then flies to freedom.

Meanwhile, in the United States, egg factory farms cram more than 90 percent of the country's 280 million egg-laying hens into barren cages so small the birds can't even spread their wings. Each bird spends her entire life given less space than a sheet of paper. And in a reality that does not please fans of Wilber or Babe, between 60 to 70 percent of the more than five million breeding pigs in the United States are kept in crates too small for them to so much as turn around.

There are laws against cruelty to animals in the United States, but most states specifically exempt animals destined for human consumption. The result is that the animal agriculture industry routinely does things to animals that, if you did them to a dog or a cat, would get you put in jail.

Gene Baur, president of Farm Sanctuary, explains: "Most of the anti-cruelty laws exempt farm animals as long as the practices are considered to be normal by the agriculture industry. What has happened is that bad has become normal, and no matter how cruel it is, normal is legal."

But here, too, change is coming. Undercover investigations have led to a $497 million judgment against the now defunct Hallmark Meat Packing company, and to the recent temporary shutdown of Central Valley Meat Company over what federal investigators termed "egregious, inhumane handling and treatment of livestock." California and Michigan have passed laws that will phase in a ban on battery cages for hens, andnine U.S. states have joined the entire European Union in heading towards a ban on confining pigs in gestation crates.

Worried that consumers are starting to find out the truth about treatment of modern farm animals and will demand further changes, industry leaders are pushing for "ag gag" laws that would hide factory farming and slaughterhouse abuses from public scrutiny. Recently passed laws in Iowa and Utah threaten jail time for anyone working undercover and taking pictures or video of animals in factory farms without permission.

What don't they want us to know? What are they trying to hide? What would happen if the veil was lifted and we saw the level of cruelty that has become the norm in U.S. industrial meat production?

A poll conducted by Lake Research partners found that 94 percent of Americans agree that animals raised for food on farms deserve to be free from abuse and cruelty, and that 71 percent of Americans support undercover investigative efforts by animal welfare organizations to expose animal abuse on industrial farms.

Most farmers don't try to be cruel to animals, but they do worry about how to cut costs. And so long as consumers are kept in the dark about the real source of their food, farm owners have no economic incentive to do more than the minimum necessary to appease regulatory authorities.

Want to take action? Join the Food Revolution Network, an online community dedicated to healthy, sustainable, humane and delicious food for all.

Or join the Humane Society's campaign for farm animal protection, or Farm Sanctuary's work for animal welfare legislation. Or if you want to save 100 animals per year, you can sign up for PETA's free veg starter kit. your social media marketing partner


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+20 # RMDC 2012-11-30 03:02
This is good news. CAFOs or confined animal feeding operations are criminally inhumane. They should all be illegal. We have laws to protect "pet" animals such as dogs but farm animals are not legally considered animals or living things but rather property or a manufacturing resource on the level of coal or crude oil.

The corporate owners of factory "farms" are not "farmers." I agree that real "farmers" do try to treat their animals in a humane way. Factory farms are involved in a manufacturing process. The manufacture food products. They don't even bring the "animnal" into the discourse.

All animals are sentient and intelligent beings. We all know how intelligent pigs are but even chickens have strong and individual personalities and interests in their own well being and the well being of their off spring. This is not dumb instinct any more than it is in humans. I'm not against eating meat; only against the inhumane treatment of animals. Or of any life form. Or of the non-living part of the earth and nature.
+11 # MainStreetMentor 2012-11-30 08:21
Cruelty is only ONE of the negatives involved iwth CAFOs(Concentra ted Animal Feeding Organizations) ... there's the deadly disease MRSA (pronounced "mersa"), ..

I urge you to read this, too:

Greed is the powerful motivator and, in the eyes of the persons conducting such operations, trumps any concerns for animal life. CAFOs and any laws enabling their operation, need to be legally shut-down.
+11 # Phlippinout 2012-11-30 10:06
In so many ways we are just like those caged animals. You may think you are free range but the economic bars are binding. We are force fed false information and milked for our tax money. We are corralled around merchandise and tethered at jobs that disrespect us. Yes little piggies, I feel your pain.
+3 # NAVYVET 2012-11-30 12:46
Good news for Aussies, but not in this country. U.S. consumers, propagandized for 2 generations by advertising, talk radio liars and the cancerous oligarchy of the 1%, long ago resigned themselves to slipping back into the lowest possible common denominator of survivable existence. Gradually and inexorably they gave their lives away to the greedy super-rich in exchange for afterlife fantasies and other people to hate. They have been led by the nose to accept union busting, outsourcing, hating anyone different, and ever-lowered wages without protest. Their poverty benefits the rich, and is a
code that tells them they are "pure" capitalists who have abandoned everything socialist even when it's to their benefit. They eat so poorly, no wonder their brains are mushed up. American bad food turns people into overweight, diabetic, timid wimps who act vicious and carry guns to prove their manhood. Their only society is a tyrannical church or a psychotic brownshirt mob like the Tea Party, both of them schools of hatred paid for by the Koch Brothers to train poor white formerly-prospe rous folks into absolute obedience en masse. Part of the knee-jerk is zombie-buying low quality, uninspected food from Big Ag factory farms. So they get sicker and sicker physically and mentally, while they get older--AND MEANER AND WHITER AND MORE PSEUDO-"CHRISTI AN"!
+5 # Beverly 2012-11-30 13:41
I have ACTUALLY SEEN ONE OF THESE CHICKEN PENS in Nanticoke, Maryland!!! It was absolutely disgusting..... . I do not remember seeing even ONE of those chickens siting down!!! They just simply stepped about very gingerly, with no noticeable communication between them at all. I was young and horrified, but did not know what to do about it.
They will hear from me NOW, I'll tell ya!!! It has left such an indelibly harsh impression on me, I cannot forget it, so thank you for this reminder.
+1 # rockieball 2012-12-01 09:20
About time. Their will be those who argue that it will raise the price of food. Well I for one buy free range and cage free food now and can taste the difference. I would rather pay a higher cost for good healthy food than unhealthy produces food. I find myself not eating as much and being fuller after a meal. The fact that these animals are feed chemically treated food to make them fatter stays in their body and thus is absorbed in the body by the people who eat the meat. To me it's the number one reason you are seeing overweight over fat people.
+1 # 8myveggies 2012-12-01 14:36
My husband and I have been vegetarians since 1976. We're just not into putting the dead, rotting flesh of sentient beings into our mouths.

Raising this unnaturally large number of animals for consumption produces more greenhouse gasses than ALL forms of transportation COMBINED.

Stop killing others. Stop killing yourselves. Stop killing the planet.

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