Does the size of the farm matter?

One of the common misconceptions when it comes to livestock production is that farm size matters.

Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest took part in last week’s Food Dialogues in Boston.  Jacobson told Brownfield regardless of how well a farmer thinks he treats animals that are raised in confinement, in his opinion, it isn’t good enough.  “Those pigs never see the light of day, they never get to roll around in the mud, or walk on good earth,” he says.  “Animal welfare experts do not consider that humane.”

Jacobson asserts that farmers that operate Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are driven solely on the economics of farming.  “If it costs them 10 percent or 20 percent more to raise his hogs he may not have a market for them, because his neighbors will compete,” he says.  “But we’re seeing increased marketplace opportunities for farmers who grow animals without antibiotics and who grow organically raised animals.  We’re seeing some changes that will hopefully percolate down through the food system and in some cases actually lead to legislative changes.”

Nebraska soybean and pork farmer Bill Luckey also took part in the Food Dialogues.  He says the consensus in agriculture is that farm size isn’t what matters.  “All sizes can survive,” he says.  “We need all sizes for everyone to feed the population, whether it be the local population, the world population, or even just our families.”

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