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Factory farming, online

(article, Stephanie Beechem)

A new interactive map posted by Food & Water Watch shows concentrations of American factory farms at the national, statewide, and even county-wide level. 

The map allows a variety of searches: by animal quantity, by farm quantity, even by type of animal (beef cattle, hogs, dairy cows, broiler chickens, and laying hens). A scrollable list at the right of each map shows the top farm polluters, by state and by county, for each type of animal.

[%image feed-image float=right width=300 credit="Photo: iStockphoto/meltonmedia" caption="Down on the farm."]

The only thing the map doesn’t do is show the astonishing consolidation of factory farming, highlighted in a recent editorial in the New York Times. Currently in the U.S, four companies slaughter more than 80 percent of the country's beef cattle and more than 60 percent of its hogs. And between 1968 and 1998, the nation's 1 million pig farms dropped to just over 114,000. 

Although the animal-rights abuses, rampant environmental pollution, and monopolistic business practices endemic to these commercial farms have been well documented by both animal-rights and environmental groups, opposition to factory farming has recently found some unexpected mainstream allies. 

From Rolling Stone’s astonishing exposé on Smithfield Farms, the largest hog-farming operation in the world, to Gourmet's article "A View to A Kill," about the poultry industry’s fledgling steps toward reform, to articles about sustainable alternatives to factory farming in the Boston Globe and the New York Times,_ dissident voices on factory farming have begun to broadcast to a mainstream audience.

Maybe sooner rather than later, factory farms will no longer be part of the mainstream.

feed-image, l