Throughout they contribute to the economic output of

    Throughout history, new farming methods have popped up to keep up with the food demands of the growing United States population. Such farming methods strived to make food production cheaper and more efficient. Hence, the birth of the modern factory farm. Now, nearly two thirds of U.S. agricultural output is from three percent of its farms (“Factory”). Though factory farms have been very good for the efficiency of food-production, animals in the farms are often victims of mistreatment. By examining these different theories, one can form an educated stance on the economic side of factory farms.From a purely economic standpoint:Farm animals are simply one of the resources (specifically a form of capital) in livestock farming, which is itself an activity producing raw materials for the human food system. As resources, the value and importance of animals is explicitly derived from what they contribute to the economic output of the production process – their ‘productivity’. The care they receive and the manner in which they are used/treated is logically determined solely by what is necessary to sustain this productivity at the appropriate level and for the appropriate period so as to gain the maximum returns from the resource. Within this framework, animals are inputs alongside other resources that are then combined and transformed in some way to produce the various outputs that people want and value, such as food. The production processes involved in producing these outputs have effects on the welfare of animals that are used as inputs. These effects are unlooked for, and largely unwanted by-products of production and are generally thought of within economics as ‘externalities’, because they lie outwith the economic process of productive activity. Thus, farm animal suffering can be seen as a ‘negative externality’ of livestock production in much the same way as environmental pollution is considered by economists as a negative externality of industrial production.Old Cull Livestock and Poultry of Little Economic Value:In the U.S., cull dairy cows and old breeding sows often travel greater distances than young animals that have been fattened on either grain or grass. There is less economic incentive to treat these animals well because they are less valuable than young feed animals. An effective way to reduce abuses is to increase the value of old breeding stock. This provides an economic incentive to treat them better. Producers need to be educated that if they sell animals before they become skinny and emaciated, they will receive more money for them. In the U.S. and other parts of the developed world, programs have been implemented in some areas to fatten old breeding stock so that they will become more valuable for meat.Alliances Between Producers and Meat Companies:In these systems, ranchers and farmers produce animals which must meet specific requirements for animal welfare, food safety, and other requirements. The rapidly growing markets in organic and natural meats have created alliance systems where standards can be enforced. Producers are often eager to join these programs in order to get higher prices. Many of these programs emphasize local production of the meat, milk or eggs.Educator Consumers About Animal Welfare: In the developed world, people are becoming more and more concerned about where their food is coming from. Many consumers may stop buying meat from animals transported long distances or badly treated. When consumers are educated, they are willing to buy more socially responsible products. This method can be very effective with affluent consumers. In the U.S. and Europe, there are expanding markets for local artisan cheese makers and other suppliers of meat, milk, or eggs that are raised with high welfare standards. In the U.K., the sales of products that were produced under fair trade agreements rose 70% in 2007 (The Independent, 2008)


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