Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2014


John Van Buren


In recent years, the awareness of factory farming has raised many questions regarding the treatment of animals, the health risks towards humans, and the affects it has on the environment. In the United States today, factory farming is the largest form of food production, where it is estimated that over a billion animals each year are killed to meet the high demand in the meat industry. The goal of factory farming is to maximize the amount of meat and dairy in a given amount of time through the cheapest forms of production. Thus, animals continuously live in inhumane conditions and face abuse before they are processed for meat and dairy. Consequently, humans consume unsanitary meat infused with antibiotics, as well as facing the contamination of their local environment. Factory farming is a very powerful industry in the United States and will only continue to exploit animals, humans and the natural environment without public awareness.

In order to approach this topic, this thesis will utilize three forms of environmental policy including environmental history, environmental economics, and environmental ethics/law. First, the history of factory farming and how it came to be the dominating force of food production in the United States. Second, this thesis explores why it is economically profitable for the meat and dairy industry and explore other techniques of farming, such as small organic farms in addition to other alternatives. Next, this thesis will discuss the ethical questions regarding factory farming, such as the physical and psychological affects it has on animals, as well as the risks it has on humans and the environment. Lastly, there will be an assessment of the various laws and regulations initiated against factory farming.