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Benefits of Grass Fed Beef

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Waste Pollution and the Environment

(1) The USDA reports that animals in the US meat industry produce 61 million tons of waste each year, which is 130 times the volume of human waste - or 1/5 a ton for every US citizen.

(2) North Carolina's 7,000,000 factory-raised hogs create four times as much waste - stored in reeking, open cesspools - as the state's 6.5 million people. The Delmarva Peninsula's 600 million chickens produce 400,000 tons of manure a year.

(3) According to the Environmental Protection Agency, hog, chicken and cattle waste has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states.

(4) Pfiesteria, a microscopic organism that feeds off the phosphorus and nitrogen found in manure, is a lethal toxin harmful to both humans and fish. In 1991 alone, 1,000,000,000 (one billion) fish were killed by pfiesteria in the Neuse River in North Carolina.

(5) Since 1995, an additional one billion fish have been killed from manure runoff in estuaries and coastal areas in North Carolina, and the Maryland and Virginia tributaries leading into the Chesapeake Bay. These deaths can be directly related to the 10 million hogs currently being raised in North Carolina and the 620 million chickens on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay.

(6) The pollution from animal waste causes respiratory problems, skin infections, nausea, depression and even death for people who live near factory farms. Livestock waste has been linked to six miscarriages in women living near a hog factory in Indiana.

(7) In Virginia, state guidelines indicate that a safe level of fecal coliform bacteria is 200 colonies per 100 milliliters of water. In 1997, some streams had levels as high as 424,000 colonies per 100 milliliters.

(1) Horrigan, Leo, Lawrence, Robert S., Walker, Polly, "How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture," Johns Hopkins University's Center for a Livable Future, July 9, 1999
(2) Chris Bedford, "How Our food is Produced Matters!", AWI Quarterly, Summer 1999
(4) Zakin, Susan. "Nonpoint Pollution: The Quiet Killer," Field & Stream, August 1999, p.86
(5) Environmental Protection Agency, 1998
(6) Centers for Disease Control, Mortality Weekly Report, July 5, 1996
(7) Washington Post, June 1, 1997

Sustainability (The Good News!)

(1) Sustainable farming, once dismissed as the pastime of crackpots and idealists, has grown into a business worth some $7.3 billion a year in the European Union and around $15.6 billion worldwide.

(2) Organic farming became one of the fastest growing segments of U.S. agriculture during the 1990's. Certified organic cropland more than doubled from 1992 to 1997, and two organic livestock sectors - eggs and dairy - grew even faster.

(3) The number of certified organic milk cows in the U.S. nearly tripled between 1992 and 1994.

(4) The United States had 537,826 certified organic layer hens in 1997, up sharply from 47,700 in 1994.

(5) Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) connects local farmers with consumers; local farms grow food specifically for CSA members. As of January 1999, there were over 1000 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms across the US and Canada.

(6) Responsible management of the natural resources of soil, water, and wildlife on the 60 percent of all U.S. farms less than 180 acres in size, produces significant environmental benefits for society.

(7) The smallest U.S. farms, those of 27 acres or less, have more than ten times greater dollar output per acre than larger farms.

(8) In farming communities dominated by large corporate farms, nearby towns died off. Where family farms predominated, there were more local businesses, paved streets and sidewalks, schools, parks, churches, clubs, and newspapers, better services, higher employment, and more civic participation.

(9) In the United States, small farmers devote 17% of their area to woodlands, compared to only 5% on large farms. Small farms maintain nearly twice as much of their land in "soil improving uses," including cover crops and green manures.

(1) Quote by Dr. Nicolas Lampkin, Agriculture Specialist, University of Wales in Aberystwyth. Paul Ames, Associated Press, December 27, 1999
(2) Economic Research Service, USDA
(3) ibid.
(4) ibid.
(5) University of Massachusetts Extension
(6) A Time To Act report, USDA National Commission on Small Farms, 1998
(7) Dr. Peter Rosset, "The Multiple Functions and Benefits of Small Farm Agriculture", Institute for Food and Development Policy, September 1999
(8) ibid.
(9) ibid.

Economics and Statistics

(1) Almost 30% of agricultural subsidies go to the top two percent of farms and over four-fifths to the top 30%.

(2) There are 1.91 million farms remaining in the United States.

(3) In 1970, there were approximately 900,000 hog farms in the United States; by 1997, there were only 139,000.

(4) Since 1986, the number of hog operations has declined by 72 percent - a loss of over 247,500 operations. Of the remaining hog operations, 2 percent control nearly half of all hog inventory.

(5) Between 1969 and 1992, the number of producers selling 1000 hogs annually or less declined 73%. Producers selling more than 1000 annually increased 320%, according to the US Census of Agriculture.

(6) Between 1993 and 1997, the number of mid-sized farms dropped by 74,440.

(7) Estimated inputs to produce a pound of: Pork: 6.9 pounds of grain, .44 gallons of gasoline, 430 gallons of water Beef: 4.8 pounds of grain, .25 gallons of gasoline, 390 gallons of water

(8) Meat production has grown worldwide from 44 million tons in 1950 to 211 million tons in 1997.

(9) The price of meat would double or triple if full ecological costs - including fossil fuel use, groundwater depletion and agricultural-chemical pollution - were factored in.

(10) 90% of the nation's poultry production is controlled by 10 companies.

(11) In Maryland, chickens outnumber people 59 to 1.

(12) Neary half of all farmers are over age 55, while just 8 percent are under age 35.

(13) In 1920, the United States had over 925,000 African American-operated farms. Today there are less than 18,500. The current rate of agricultural loss by African-American farmers is over two times that of other American farmers.

(14) The farmer's share of each food dollar has dropped steadily over the last 40 years, from 41 cents in 1950 to only 20 cents in 1999.

(15) In 1998, farmers earned an average of only $7,000 per year from their farming operations. 88 percent of the average farm operator's household income comes from off-the-farm sources.

(16) Large farms receive nearly twice as much in government payments as do small farms.

(17) Four meat packing companies control an estimated 79 percent of cattle slaughter.

(1) Horrigan, Leo, Lawrence, Robert S., Walker, Polly, "How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture," Johns Hopkins University's Center for a Livable Future, July 9, 1999
(2) 1997 Census of Agriculture, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service*
(3) Drabenscott, Mark. "This Little Piggy Went to Market ... ", Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Vol. 83, No. 3, Third Quarter, 1998, pp. 79-97
(4) December 1998 Hogs and Pigs Report, 1986 Hogs and Pigs Report, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service*
(5)Swine Strategies, State of Utah Governor's Office of Planning and Budget, Summer 1995
(6) Farm and Land in Farms, Final Estimates 1993-1997, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service*
(7) Alan Durning, "Fat of the Land", World Watch Institute, 1991
(8) Earth Times, July 1, 1998
(9) EarthSave, November 1997
(10) Zakin, Susan. "Nonpoint Pollution: The Quiet Killer," Field and Stream, August 1999, pp. 84-88.
(11) Ibid.
(12) Quick Facts, 1997 Census of Agriculture, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, February 1999*
(13) 1997 Census of Agriculture, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service*
(14) USDA Economic Research*
(15) Agricultural Outlook, Table 31, USDA Economic Research*
(16) 1997 Census of Agriculture, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service*
(17) Beef Today (Nov-Dec 1998) cited in "Concentration of Agricultural Markets," William Heffernan et al, January 1999*

Antibiotics and Public Health

(1) Overuse of antibiotics in animals is causing more strains of drug-resistant bacteria, which is affecting the treatment of various life-threatening diseases in humans. The Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences has estimated the annual cost of treating antibiotic-resistant infections in the U.S. at $30 billion.

(2) Fifty million pounds of antibiotics are produced in the U.S. each year. Twenty million pounds are given to animals, of which 80% (16 million pounds) is used on livestock merely to promote more rapid growth. The remaining 20% is used to help control the multitude of diseases that occur under such tightly confined conditions, including anemia, influenza, intestinal diseases, mastitis, metritis, orthostasis, and pneumonia.

(3) Chickens are reservoirs for many food borne pathogens including Campylobacter and Salmonella. 20% of broiler chickens in the US are contaminated with Salmonella and 80% are contaminated with Campylobacter in the processing plant. Campylobacter is the most common known cause of bacterial food borne illness in the US.

(4) 5000 deaths and 76 million cases of food-borne illness occur annually.

(5) Antibiotics in farm animals leave behind drug-resistant microbes in meat and milk. With every burger and shake consumed, super-microbes settle in the stomach where they transfer drug resistance to bacteria in the body, making an individual more vulnerable to previously-treatable conditions.

(1) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, "Antimicrobial Fact Sheet", May 4, 1999
(2) American Medical News, "FDA Pledges to Fight Overuse of Antibiotics in Animals", February 15, 1999
(3) Risk Assessment of Fluoroquinolone Use in Poultry, Food & Drug Administration, February 2000
(4) ibid.
(5) Newsweek, March 7, 1994

Animal Welfare

(1) Each full-grown chicken in a factory farm has as little as six-tenths of a square foot of space. Because of the crowding, they often become aggressive and sometimes eat each other. This has lead to the painful practice of debeaking the birds.

(2) Hogs become aggressive in tight spaces and often bite each other's tails, which has caused many farmers to cut the tails off.

(3) Concrete or slatted floors allow for easy removal of manure, but because they are unnatural surfaces for pigs, the animals often suffer skeletal deformities.

(4) Ammonia and other gases from manure irritate animals' lungs, to the point where over 80% of US pigs have pneumonia upon slaughter.

(5) Due to genetic manipulation, 90% of broiler chickens have trouble walking.

(1) Horrigan, Leo, Lawrence, Robert S., Walker, Polly, "How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture," Johns Hopkins University's Center for a Livable Future, July 9, 1999
(2) ibid.
(3) ibid.
(4) ibid.
(5) Erik Marcus, Vegan, Mcbooks, 1998


(1) The average American consumes nearly twice his or her weight in meat annually.

(2) Poultry processing has almost double the injury and illness rate than trades like coal mining and construction.

(3) The United Nations reports that all 17 of the world's major fishing areas are at or beyond their natural limits. One third of all the world's fish catch is fed directly to livestock.

(4) "Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." -- Albert Einstein

(5) "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man." -- Mohandas Ghandi

(1) Earth Times, July 1, 1998
(2) EarthSave, March 1998
(3) EarthSave, November 1997

Facts and data provided by GRACE (Global Resource Action Center for the Environment),
www.gracelinks.org. For more information on factory farming and its impacts, visit the GRACE Factory Farm Project at www.factoryfarm.org.

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