‘Factory farm’ comments draw emotional response

Critics of modern agriculture like to use the derogatory term “factory farm” to describe large farming operations.

At the recent Food Dialogues: Iowa event in Ames, the head of the small farm advocacy group called Food Democracy Now, Dave Murphy, launched into a tirade against what he called “large, corporate, factory farms”.

Murphy’s comments elicited this emotional response from Katie Olthoff, whose family owns and operates a 20,000 bird turkey farm near Stanhope, Iowa.

“This ‘factory farm’ term obviously makes me a little bit angry—I’m getting a little bit worked up here—because although my farm is large, I don’t consider it a factory,” said Olthoff.

“We’re out there every day—my husband, he is out there several times a day—walking through the turkeys and giving them the utmost care.  And on Thanksgiving, when everyone is eating their turkey, he will be out there choring—he will leave the family gathering to go and check on our turkeys—on our ‘factory farm’.”

Olthoff reminded Murphy that nearly all farms are “family farms”, no matter their size.

“The fact is that 96 percent of the farms in the United States are family farms, like mine and my husband’s,” she said, “and our families, all of us, work out there to provide the best care possible—to provide the best food possible.”

AUDIO: Excerpt from Food Dialogues: Iowa–Dave Murphy and Katie Olthoff (4:21 MP3)

  • Let’s get something straight.

    IF you look the owner in the eye when you purchase the product – IT IS LOCAL.

    IF the owner is not present when you purchase the product – IT IS A FACTORY.

    Really simple. No need to qualify, make exception, nor quantify anything complex.

    Reality has it 96% of American Farms are Family-Owned FACTORY Farms.

    Sorry it doens’t fit your storybook marketing, but its time for Truth & Honesty.

  • Katie Olthoff schooled Dave Murphy! While he was out learning activism in the big city, she was on the farm. While he was fighting against his neighbor’s effort to build a business, she was operating hers. Dave Murphy, you got schooled!

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