National Conference to End Factory Farming

Photo by Farm Sanctuary

Starting tomorrow, experts from all types of backgrounds will come together for the first National Conference to End Factory Farming: for Health, Environment and Farm Animals in Arlington, Virginia. Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization and planner of the conference, has put together an impressive lineup of more than 30 speakers. This is the first conference to focus directly on factory farming and its effects on human health, the environment, and on the welfare of farm animals.

Photo by Scott Bauer, USDA

Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary and Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) will kick off the conference with a welcome reception on Thursday evening followed by two days of plenary and panel presentations. The first day of sessions will focus on “the issues” and the second day will focus on “building solutions.” Check out the full list of speakers. On October 22,  HLN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell talked to Time magazine’s Bryan Walsh (speaker) about the conference. Check out the video below.

More than ever, people are beginning to question where their food is really coming from – and they should!  According to Farm Forward, more than 99 percent of animal products in the United States are produced under factory farm conditions. So, unless you’re a vegetarian, you are more than likely buying into a system where animals are treated more like machines than living, breathing creatures. And to make matters worse, global meat production and consumption is on the rise. According to research released earlier this month by the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project, worldwide meat production has tripled since the 1970s and since 2000, global meat production has risen by 20 percent.

This month, Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Eating Animals, led a captivating discussion on factory farming at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Australia. In the session, he said:

Factory farming depends on ignorance… it requires ignorance. There is nobody who, upon learning about what factory farming does for the environment, animals, and to humans, likes it more. There is no such person… everybody like it less.

He goes onto talk about the consequences of this silence as global consumption increases:

If China and India start eating like Americans, we’re going to have to factory farm twice as many animals even if the human population holds level, which it won’t. That would be 100 billion factory farmed animals every year! Silence about such a massive and urgent problem to me, seems like the most dangerous idea of all.

The video in its entirety is almost an hour long, but Jonathan’s talk is only about 30 minutes. Trust me, it’s definitely worth your time! Click here to watch the video.

The solution to stop factory farming will have to include both an increased consciousness of the realities of factory farming and a reduced demand for meat on a global scale. I have high hopes for this conference and expect some real solutions to emerge from this gathering of talented and passionate individuals.

To summarize these feelings of hope, I am ending this blog with a quote from Nil Zacharias, co-founder of One Green Planet (a conference sponsor) from a recent Huffington Post Green blog:

It’s time we came together to build a movement that is focused on bringing about real change; it’s time to focus on the real issues and the best ideas that can solve them, irrespective of ideological differences; it’s time we stop undermining our health, the lives of animals and the future of our planet; it’s time to end factory farming!

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