If you have been in the agriculture industry for anytime at all really, you know the industry is constantly under scrutiny. A term that is often heard thrown around by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and similar organizations is “factory farms,”… but what is a factory farm? Merriam-Webster defines a factory farm as a large industrial farm, especially a farm on which large numbers of livestock are indoors in conditions intended to maximize production at minimal cost. It also can be called intensive animal farming or industrial livestock production. 

But what actually is a factory farm? How many animals does it take to be considered a factory farm? When the term factory farm comes into my mind, I think of boring white buildings with lots of animals and lots of equipment owned by some rich oil guy. In reality this is not how things are, factory farms are just farms. 97% of farms in the United States are family owned, meaning that there isn’t some rich person controlling everything. 

The animals do live in the barns, but it is so much cleaner and safer for them when compared to being left out in the elements. In addition, farmers are using technology to help benefit the animals, inside of those barns they can control the temperature, keeping it comfortable all year around. They can control the exact amount of feed an animal gets and keep a closer eye on their livestock if they get sick or injured. 

Farming takes a lot of commitment and patience; it is not about the money. Ask any farmer — seriously ask any farmer — and they will tell you they farm because they love it. It is a family tradition. Yes, the farming practices from 50 years ago have changed, but the values have not. 

I will end with this: a factory farm is just a farm. 

Schiereck is the El Dorado Springs FFA chapter president.

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