Recent Articles About Animal Welfare

Elsie Herring stays indoors on the days the industrial hog farm next door sprays manure from a lagoon-like holding pit across the field that ends eight feet from her kitchen window. Because a filthy mist coats her property if the wind is blowing from the west, Herring has learned to avoid activities like sitting on her porch, grilling outside, hanging laundry on the line, opening windows, and drinking water from the well.

Herring lives in Duplin County, North Carolina, on a plot of land her family has owned for more than a century. Located in the eastern part of the state, Duplin contains more than 18.5 million confined animals, including 2.3 million hogs. In Herring’s part of the state, pigs outnumber people almost 40 to one. Read more

In April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed new Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) in an effort to bring greater consistency and transparency” to the USDA organic standards. If the new rules are finalized, the Obama administration is poised to institute a set of long-awaited changes that could improve animal welfare in four areas of organic livestock and poultry practices, including living conditions, healthcare, transport, and slaughter. Read more

At Market Table Bistro in Lovestville, Virginia, you can order a sustainable, pasture-raised cheeseburger with sautéed onions, herb mayo, cheese, and bacon for $14. At the nearby fast-casual Elevation Burger in Ashburn, Virginia, the standard two-patty organic grassfed burger will set you back about $7. Travel to the closest Hardee’s, in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, and the double all-natural grassfed burger there will cost you approximately $6.49 or about $4.89 for a single.

The demand for grassfed beef is growing by at least 20 percent a year in the U.S. and the number of restaurants and burger chains serving grassfed and pasture-raised burgers is also growing rapidly. But just how they define and verify the practices behind those terms can be murky business. (We covered some of that here). While some sustainable food advocates find the growth of the entire grassfed industry to be a heartening sign of shifting mass market demand, the grassfed burger market may be growing so quickly that it’s undermining some of the original intention behind the shift. Read more

A few weeks ago, we introduced our readers to Patrick Holden, a farmer and the director of the UK-based Sustainable Food Trust. This weekend, Patrick is bringing together hundreds of scientists, advocates, business leaders, and journalists for a three-day conference in San Francisco on the True Cost of American Food. He points out that while food in the developed world is cheaper than at any other point in history, the resources required to grow and make it—and the environmental and health impacts of doing so—are costing governments and taxpayers a great deal. Read more

All eyes have been on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, but it is by no means the only city where the poorest residents face environmental damage and lax government oversight.

Further to the South, in rural North Carolina, another, less-known battle is taking shape. This crisis involves the lasting impact of pollution from large concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) housing pigs. Now a group of citizens is claiming that the state’s $3 billion pork industry is disposing of its waste in a manner that disproportionately and negatively affects residents of color, and that the negotiating efforts are being stalled by the pork industry. Read more