National consumer advocacy organization Food & Water Watch (FWW) just released the latest version of its Factory Farm Map, which charts the concentration of factory-farmed animals across the country and their subsequent affect on human health, communities and the environment.
As most factory farmers and the state and local agencies that regulate them are often unable and/or unwilling to provide information about the locations of factory farms, researchers at FWW analyzed data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Using USDA Census data from 1997, 2002, and 1997 for beef and dairy cattle, hogs, broiler meat chickens and egg-laying operations, FWW researchers calculated the number of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in each county in the United States. In addition to county-by-county analysis, viewers can filter the map by species of animals farmed, zoom in to the state or county level, and view maps by year.
The user-friendly Factory Farm Map shows that, though the total number of farms raising livestock in the United States has declined in recent years, these farms have increased in size. In other words, independent animal farmers are disappearing while large factory farms are getting bigger, and bigger factory farms mean more pollution and economic hardship in many rural communities across the nation.