Poverty and factory farming

Battery farmed chickens, Bali

Hunger is a global emergency. As many as two billion people live in poverty, facing hunger and deprivation.

Approximately 75 per cent of the world's poor live in rural areas. The majority are farmers or depend on agriculture, yet they do not produce or earn enough to meet their basic needs.

Tackling poverty means addressing rural problems.

Is factory farming the answer?

Factory farming was once promoted as a way to provide cheap and plentiful protein.

However, the often hidden costs of factory farming include climate change and environmental degradation, loss of livelihoods and a huge welfare cost for billions of animals.

Environment and climate

Livestock production is responsible for seven billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions globally (9 per cent of all carbon dioxide, 37per cent of all methane and 64 per cent of all nitrous oxide emissions). It is one of the largest polluting sectors – including phosphorous, nitrogen and pesticide contamination of water.

Destroying livelihoods

Factory farms are characterised by high output and efficiency at all costs, and as a result they contribute to rural unemployment and migration to urban areas.

Moderate and small-scale farmers may be forced out of business by large competitors. In Santa Catarina, Brazil, there were 130,000 pig producers in 1990. Increasing industrialisation meant only 16,000 were left by 2000.

In contrast, moderate-scale humane farms can benefit farmers’ livelihoods by raising profits, creating and retaining jobs and adding value to the supply chain.

Destabilising food security

Intensive farming of chickens, pigs and cows requires huge amounts of feed grains. A third of arable land is used to produce feed for animals, increasingly reared in intensive systems. The rise in intensive farming of animals is likely to be an increasingly important factor in global food insecurity.

Real solutions

WSPA’s Model Farm Project, carried out in partnership with FAI in locations in Asia and Latin America, provides a live, practical demonstration of  the benefits of humane farming.

It shows governments that more sustainable farming can be both cost-effective and kinder to animals and people.