Factory Farming and the Climate Connection

Factory farming is coming under increasing scrutiny by consumers, not only because of inhumane practices, but due to the threats posed to human health, the climate, and the environment. These CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) are how America produces the vast majority of its meat.

Threats to the climate and environment:

  • According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), factory farms account for 37 percent of methane (CH4) emissions.
  • The EPA estimates methane has more than 20 times the global warming potential of CO2.
  • The waste produced per day by one dairy cow is equal to that of 20-40 people.
  • Improperly stored or used animal waste can cause dangerous levels of phosphorus and nitrogen to leach into rivers, streams, and bays, robbing them of vital oxygen necessary for aquatic life.

Threats to health:

  • The massive quantities of urine and feces generated by factory farms sits in giant lagoons, containing as much as 45 million gallons of waste.
  • Animal waste contaminates drinking water supplies, which in turn leads to disease outbreaks traced to bacteria and viruses from waste.
  • For those living and working near these plants, breathing problems are an all too common problem from the harmful gases.
  • Perhaps most concerning, the overuse of antibiotics to treat overcrowded and stressed animals, has lead to a dramatic rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria in human diseases. The World Health Organization, in a report, states, “A post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries can kill, far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st century.”

The Big Switch

Many people who are concerned about human health, the health of the planet, and the welfare of animals, are making the switch to either grass-fed and free-range meat, dairy and eggs, or going off meat-products altogether. Please use the Cool Harvest Potluck Kit, or the Cool Harvest Movie Kit, to learn more about the issues and food choices that address climate change, keep people healthy, and help animals to live better lives in the process.


Teton Waters Ranch in Idaho, where cattle add to the health of the land and native grasses. There is no use or need for antibiotics on the farm.