Analyse the ILO’s Economics

Promises vs. Reality

Factory farms promise communities:

  • New jobs
  • Influx of money to a community that may be seen as dying
  • Better markets for farmers’ grain
  • More commerce for business
  • Population increase
  • They will be non-polluters
  • No alteration of quality of life

However, in reality:

  • Jobs are often limited, low wage, and hazardous. There is generally a high turnover rate.
  • Building materials and equipment are bought outside the area as many of these areas are remote and have low populations, which in turn often means that supplies needed by the proponent are not readily available in the community.
  • Feed is bought wherever it is cheapest, usually outside the area
  • Population declines
  • Tourism suffers
  • Unemployment and poverty rise
  • Small communities have few stores and little shopping to absorb the wages of workers. As a result, money leaves the area.
  • Property values decline
  • The tax burden on the region increases due to environmental costs, infrastructure costs, social costs, and resource depletion.

Factory farm developers target areas that:

  • have environmental laws that are non‑existent and/or loosely enforced.
  • are isolated (small communities)
  • have virtually no economic activity except agriculture
  • have large amounts of cheap water

Factory farms tend to be owned by outside investors rather than local people. Therefore any profits earned (or subsidy payments received) do not stay in the community.

Factory farms are taxed at the same rate as other farms, yet they use a much higher proportion of community services than a family farm. For example, the heavy truck traffic required to deliver feed and to transport animals causes road damage and dust problems. The factory farm uses a lot of water, may contaminate the local water sources, yet does not pay extra for the costs of additional water pipes or water treatment facilities. Factory farms require workers who may have children that attend the local school, but their school taxes are no higher than the neighbouring family farm’s.

For in-depth discussion of factory farm location decisions, read “Pollution Shopping in Rural America: The myth of economic development in isolated regions” by Dr. William J. Weida. (pdf)