The impact of macro farms on the environment

impact of macrofarms

In recent news, a lot of attention has been paid to macro farms, sparking widespread social debate. However, it is important to understand what exactly macro farms are. These large facilities have the capacity to house tens of thousands of animals, but often lack the necessary measures to ensure basic hygiene and safety standards.

In this article we are going to tell you what it is the impact of macro farms on the environment.

What are macrofarms?

pigs

Until now there is no established definition for the term “macroganja”, despite its frequent use by environmental organizations and associations to describe large-scale livestock farms that employ intensive production methods.

The practice of intensive livestock farming involves the confinement of animals such as pigs, cows and chickens in industrial buildings, where they are fed only with feed and are deprived of the opportunity to graze in open fields or enjoy natural light. Within these large-scale operations, animals are confined in spaces that are insufficient to feed them adequately and properly manage their waste. For example, pigs are often kept in narrow cages that restrict their movement to the point that they cannot even turn around.

Environmentalists often refer to these facilities as “meat factories” because of their incessant breeding and fattening operations. In a single year, these macro farms can go through three complete cycles, meaning that a facility designed to house 7.200 pigs can ultimately house a staggering 21.600 animals in a 12-month span.

How they came about

environment and macrofarms

Historically, small family farms were the predominant owners of agricultural land. However, in recent decades there has been a change in the business model. Now it is the large meat companies that take over the livestock and the facilities, while ranchers are hired to supervise the management of these facilities and be responsible for the elimination of slurry, made up of animal excrement and organic waste. In exchange for their services, farmers receive a predetermined fixed price.

Furthermore, it is usually these same companies that supervise the operations of the slaughterhouses, where the animals are killed and their meat is prepared for packaging. The goal is to minimize expenses to maximize profits, even if that means compromising animal welfare.

What are the adverse impacts associated with large-scale agricultural operations?

macro farms

The significant environmental consequences associated with macro farms are the main points of contention. One aspect involves the release of harmful gases, including methane (CH4), ammonia (NH3) and nitrous oxide (N2O), during sludge decomposition. These greenhouse gases are known to contribute to climate change.

In contrast, waste disposal involves the containment of large reservoirs and its use as fertilizer for agricultural purposes, although an excess of this practice can potentially lead to soil contamination. Besides, If these substances infiltrate underground layers, they have the potential to contaminate groundwater sources. As a result, nearby communities face the unfortunate reality of living amid contaminated land and water.

While advocates of large-scale farms maintain that these establishments adhere to protocols intended to preserve the environment and stimulate economic growth in rural communities, the reality is that these farms typically employ a limited number of workers due to the use extensive automation in various operations.

According to a report prepared by Ecologistas en Acción titled "Industrial farms and depopulation", the installation of macro farms in certain localities Not only has it failed to increase the number of inhabitants, but in many cases it has caused a decrease in the population.

The use of water in meat production is an additional ecological impact. Every day, an average pig consumes approximately 12 liters of water, and Even more is required to maintain cleanliness within the facilities. Furthermore, the mistreatment of animals serves as another reason for environmental organizations to promote the reduction of meat consumption.

The clash between governments and macro farms

The issue of macro-farm management and its environmental implications has sparked heated debate in several European nations, Spain being one of them. The discussion has gained momentum after the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Alberto Garzón, expressed his concern about the detrimental effects of macro farms on rural regions during an interview with The Guardian.

At the end of the previous year, the European Commission took measures against Spain, taking it before the Court of Justice of the European Union (EU) for its failure to comply with regulations on nitrate pollution, failing to comply with the obligations set out in the European Green Deal.

Despite growing public concern about large-scale farms, no nation has implemented substantial measures to ban or regulate their operations. France, a prominent agricultural force within the European Union, has seen President Emmanuel Macron advocate the need to reform both production and consumption practices. Similarly, in Germany, the EU's second largest pork producer after Spain, the Green Party is seeking to restructure livestock farming as part of its agenda within the coalition government.

In the United States, the traditional view of ranches filled with free-roaming animals It has been replaced by large industrial warehouses that confine pigs, cows and sheep in small spaces. This change has resulted in a true oligopoly, with four large corporations dominating the agricultural and meat production market. Given their status as the country's main suppliers, these companies wield significant power to dictate prices, which ultimately harms small ranchers and farmers.

In an effort led by President Joe Biden and Senator Corey Booker, the proposed Farm System Reform Act has gained support, aiming to curb the establishment and expansion of large-scale farms.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the impact of macrofarms on the environment.


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