The production of meat, dairy or eggs requires the insemination, birthing, raising, slaughtering, processing and marketing of food production animals. In the last 30 years, wealthy animal production industries have consolidated all of these functions under centrally-owned corporate roofs. Colloquially, this system is called “from birth to bacon.” In economic market-based terms, it is called horizontal integration, vertical integration and global expansion of the food system.
While this model streamlines the food animal production process and may be economical for the corporation, it breeds and exacerbates a number of problems, including:
This corporatized approach results in a food system that monopolizes all aspects of production and sales, yet escapes responsibility for the damages it causes. It also has been moving along at a faster clip than agricultural policy, undermining food system checks and balances, food security and public health and environmental protections.
The animal factory system wields significant power in Congress and in states, as is evidenced by the overwhelming subsidies doled out to the industry. The consolidated efforts of industry power also work to pass laws subversively, protecting its interests. For example, “ag gag” laws criminalize the recording of sound or photos of animal factories, and other laws make possession of heritage breed animals a felony. These kinds of approaches impede upon the public’s right to know and right to farm sustainably.