Livestock are domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. Livestock generally are raised for profit. Raising animals (animal husbandry) is a component of modern agriculture. It has been practiced in many cultures since the transition to farming from hunter-gather lifestyles.
The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production study released Tuesday called for a vast overhaul of the industry...The commission, which included key Iowans including the head of the University of Iowa College of Public Health, found that livestock industry powers have too much influence on how government regulates the industry. That presents too much of a public threat in the commission’s view.
Due to technological innovation and lower transportation costs, the livestock industry has become less tied to feed supplies. The choice of where to locate is determined largely by access to input and output markets, technology employed, and the environmental attributes of the land. Lower transportation costs free location decisions and result in the specialization and concentration of several livestock species industries.
"The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, on every scale from local to global," according to the latest report of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) about the effects of the livestock industry on the environment, entitled 'Livestock's Long Shadow'. And they have plenty of evidence for the statement.
In a report released today, the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group focused on science and technology, estimates that livestock are fed eight times more antibiotics than people consume. By lacing livestock food and water with antibiotics, the scientists argue, animals become hosts to drug-resistant bacteria... Livestock industry representatives claim such figures are inflated.
Biotechnology is being harnessed in various aspects of the livestock industry to hasten breed development for improved animal health and welfare, enhanced reproduction, and improved nutritional quality and safety of animal-derived foods. Various biotechnology methods are used in improving the breeding stock of animals. These include artificial insemination (AI), embryo transfer (ET), in-vitro fertilization (IVF), somatic cell nuclear transfer, and the emerging technology on somatic cell nuclear transfer.
Videos that appear to depict cruelty may not be accurate because they don’t tell the whole story, said Minnesota’s Magnus. Agriculture interests point to footage released Jan. 30 by the Humane Society of the United States from a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. supplier showing sows with injuries and pigs squealing during castration... “The video didn’t show any abuse or cruelty,” David Warner, a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, said. Images of a sow with a protruding bottom, he said, would be normal if she had just given birth.
Efforts by companies such as Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. to demand that farmers raise pigs outside or in large enclosures have also prompted changes in the food supply chain. McDonald’s said on Feb. 13 it would require pork suppliers to get rid of gestation pens that animal-rights groups have deemed cruel.
"The livestock industry is changing really rapidly in this country and elsewhere," said Falcon, deputy director of Stanford's Program on Food Security and the Environment and a senior fellow at the Woods Institute... In his lifetime, he's seen a 90 percent reduction in the number of small feedlots near his childhood home. Small farms with free-roaming animals are disappearing in many parts of the world, he said. Currently, three-quarters of the world's poultry supply, half of the pork and two-thirds of the eggs come from industrial meat factories, according to the FAO.
Animal products account for over half of the value of U.S. agricultural products, often exceeding $100 billion per year... The United States has the largest fed-cattle industry in the world, and is the world's largest producer of beef, primarily high-quality, grain-fed beef for domestic and export use...The U.S. poultry industry is the world's largest producer and second-largest exporter of poultry meat and is a major egg producer.
Consumption of animal products as food is increasing at an alarming pace in the world. Increasing real incomes and population, combined with changing eating habits, have caused demand for animal products to skyrocket. Compared to the 1950s, the world’s meat consumption has increased five-fold.