XIV. The Impact of Industrial Agriculture on Climate Change, Water Pollution, and Farmers' Incomes Print E-mail


Industrial Agriculture's Practice of Dumping

Led to Farmers' Inability to Earn a Living



Across the world, nongovernmental organizations (NGO’s) are promoting adherence to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and other regional human rights agreements.  NGO’s are the equivalent of what we call nonprofit organizations in the U.S.  While global policy might seem remote from state or city policy, global policy influences the well being of people, especially farmers, in countries throughout the world. 


Industrial Agriculture Makes Earning a Living Impossible for Many Farmers


A substantial number of immigrants who were farmers are right here in our own cities and states because the first North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other later trade agreements allowed industrial agriculture corporations to sell meats and grains below the cost of production, a practice called dumping.  This undermined the ability of local farmers in countries around the world to earn enough money to feed their families.  Industrial corporations were able to sell meat and grains below the cost of production because their products were subsidized by U.S. taxpayers, a practice allowed by NAFTA.



Industrial Agriculture - Big Contributor to Climate Change

Worse yet, industrial agriculture used methods for meat and dairy production that release large amounts of greenhouse gases into the environment.  A recent study by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and GRAIN estimates that the five largest meat producing mega-corporations are responsible for 15% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than any of the major oil producers.1  Traditional family farmers are now exposed to highly polluted air as they become surrounded by factory farms with dense confined animals grown over large manure lagoons.


top meat and dairy industries emit more ghgs that exxon shell and bp


It’s the corporations who own, run and profit from factory farms and confined animal feed operations (CAFOs) that are greatly increasing greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.  “These are landlords of a system so powerful that it is, in large part, determining land-use patterns worldwide, driving protein production and consumption globally and changing cultural dietary norms, all in the name of expanding markets and profits. We’re talking about some of the biggest and richest corporations in the world who actually have it in their power to be among the most important industries in the world when it comes to solving climate change. We’re talking JBS, Tyson, Cargill, Dairy Farmers of America (the corporation, not the family farmers), and Fonterra Group.”1  Factory farming is more devastating to the natural environment than any other human activity. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported that industrial animal agriculture generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all transportation vehicles combined.2



1.  Magot, Juliette.  “New research shows the industrial livestock industry is creating a climate crisis.”  Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, November 7, 2017.



2.  “Negative Effects of Factory Farming.”  Green Times, January 15, 2013.  



Industrial Agriculture - A Big Polluter of Lakes, Streams, and Ground Water

That’s not where the damage ends.  Industrial meat and dairy production is also polluting water sources in farming states like Iowa and Minnesota.  Iowa, which has the largest number of animals raised on factory farms, is currently near the bottom of all states in water quality.  It’s water is considered filth.  At historical funding levels and water body restoration rates, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency already estimated that it would take 1,000 years to restore Iowa's water quality.2


factory farms - leading states

Minnesota, the state that is second highest in the number of factory farms, also has a serious increase in water pollution.  The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that America’s livestock create three times as much excreta as the human population.  According to the EPA, a dairy farm with 2,500 cows – which is large, but not exceptional – can generate as much waste as the people in a city the size of Miami.  Keep in mind that human waste is usually processed while animal waste is not treated.3


In 2016, more than 300 lakes, rivers and streams were added to its list of MN's waters impaired by pollution.  As of 2016, about two-thirds of MN watersheds had been tested and 40 percent of Minnesota rivers and lakes were found to be impaired by farm runoff, bacteria, mercury or other pollutants.4 



1.  "The Register’s Editorial:  New regulations needed to deal with nation’s water.”  Des Moines Register.


2.  U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Risk Assessment Evaluation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations."  May, 2004.



3.  Huber, Bridget.  "As Factory Farms Spread, Government Efforts to Curb Threats from Livestock Waste Bog Down."  Fair Warning, News of Safety, Health, and Corporate Conduct, May 30, 2013.


4.  Gunderson, Dan.  MN adds more than 300 streams, lakes to polluted water list.  Moorhead, MN.  July 30, 2016.








MN's Leading Election System

With Secretary of State Steve Simon


steve simon


Listen to Secretary of State Steve Simon's excellent presentation on MN's outstanding election system emulated by many other states at the Think Again Brooklyns forum January 19, 2016.  Secretary Simon includes ways in which it can be improved, and he explains why it is important to vote.  He concludes with a quote from a tee shirt:  "Failure to vote is not an act of rebellion.  It is an act of surrender."

Get details on how to vote at http://mnvotes.org

How Oregon Became the Easiest Place to Vote in the US

By Lornet Turnbull
YES! Magazine
October 8, 2016


In January, Oregon became the first state in the country to begin automatically registering eligible citizens to vote when they obtain or renew their driver's licenses or state IDs, completely shifting the burden of voter registration from the individual to the government. 

Read the Article

Think Again MN, Powered by Joomla!