Farm Bill Contributes to Health Hazards of Factory Farms
A recent PCRM Capitol Hill discussion highlighted public health and environmental hazards created by factory farm facilities and the need to address these problems in the upcoming Farm Bill.
Speakers included Dan Imhoff, author of the book Food Fight: The Citizen’s Guide to the Next Food and Farm Bill, Don Webb, a former hog farmer turned environmentalist who now works for the Waterkeeper Alliance, PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., and PCRM director of government affairs Elizabeth Kucinich.
“Factory farms pose a serious public health hazard, so why are they subsidized by public money?” Dr. Barnard says. “These facilities pump out high-fat, high-cholesterol meat products and often pollute waterways—yet they also receive generous subsidies under the Farm Bill. We want Congress to stop rewarding facilities that endanger public health.”
Animal waste runoff from factory farms, where chickens, pigs, and cows raised for food are confined in small spaces, has contaminated waterways and even drinking water supplies and led to disease outbreaks among humans and aquatic life. Waste from hog farms, for example, has been implicated in the contamination of North Carolina waters with the microorganism pfiesteria, killing more than 1 billion fish. The widespread use of antibiotics on factory farms has led to a proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, making it harder to treat infections among humans.
Sixty-three percent of the government’s agricultural subsidies for domestic food products in recent history have directly and indirectly supported meat and dairy production. Less than 1 percent of these subsidies have gone to fruits and vegetables. The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines say eating more healthful plant-based foods and less saturated fat and cholesterol helps prevent heart problems and other life-threatening medical conditions.
To learn more about the Farm Bill, visit PCRM.org/Subsidies.