Big Farming

In the 1980s, more than a quarter-million family farms were shut down, as factory-farms took over. More than 900 farmers committed suicide. The number may be even higher, but many of the suicides appeared to be farm machinery accidents.

Now, we’re in an era of super-farming. For instance, 6 mega-dairy farms in Texas produce more organic milk than all 453 organic dairy farms in Wisconsin. Is the organic milk of the same quality when it comes from an operation of that size? Are the cows still grass-fed? Are they raised in pastures where they can live natural, happy cow lives, or merely fed grass (so they can be called ‘grass fed’) in crowded holding pens? Can everything remain organic when huge populations of cattle can rapidly spread a disease? Can the mega-farmers comply with truly organic requirements?


Ranching vs Farming

A rancher can grow 165 pounds of beef on one acre. A farmer can grow 20,000 pounds of potatoes on one acre. Over 1/2 of US farmland is used directly or indirectly for beef production (much of it is used to grow the food that cattle eat – 16 pounds for every pound of beef produced. Twenty-five gallons of water are required to grow a pound of wheat. Twenty-five hundred gallons are required to grow a pound of beef. “Fifty-five percent of all the antibiotics produced in the US are fed to livestock.” “In 1960, 13% of staphylococci infections were resistant to penicillin. In 1988, 91% were resistant.” – from “May All Be Fed” – suggested reading by John Robbins