A new interactive web tool from Food & Water Watch provides a dramatic illustration of the increasingly consolidated animal agriculture industry in the United States. The advocacy group mapped USDA livestock census data from 2002 and 2007, providing a new way for concerned consumers to explore the origin of meat and dairy foods in the United States.
The trends revealed are striking. For example, nearly half of factory-farm egg-laying hens are located in just 5 states — Iowa, Ohio, Indiana, California and Pennsylvania. Overall, total animals on factory farms grew by 5 million, or more than 20 percent in 5 years.
“Whether you live near a factory farm and are subject to the groundwater contamination or air pollution it causes, or live thousands of miles away and eat the meat or eggs from potentially unsafe facilities, very few people are spared the risk that these operations bring,” said Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch’s executive director. “The purpose of the Factory Farm Map is to provide an easy-to-use tool that anyone can access to learn more about where our food is really coming from.”
Map users can explore the Factory Farm Map by type of animal, by county, and by year. Food & Water Watch also ranked both states and counties by number of livestock.
States Ranked by Livestock Units
1. Texas 3,447,173
2. Iowa 3,306,853
3. California 2,963,691
4. Nebraska 2,595,684
5. Kansas 2,554,873
6. North Carolina 1,317,559
7. Colorado 1,223,972
8. Minnesota 1,205,782
9. Idaho 859,721
10. Oklahoma 644,061
Counties Ranked by Livestock Units
1. Tulare County, CA 641,469
2. Deaf Smith County, TX 454,233
3. Imperial County, CA 362,895
4. Merced County, CA 351,756
5. Weld County, CO 348,755
6. Castro County, TX 336,264
7. Sioux County, IA 330,567
8. Parmer County, TX 290,919
9. Pinal County, AZ 285,315
10. Stanislaus County, CA 273,721
Grist blogger Tom Phillip used the tool to explore hog and chicken production in counties near his home in North Carolina and has this to say about the map:
“The meat industry operates under a cloak of darkness. With the data assembled here — drawn from a web of state and national sources — Food & Water Watch has given us a powerful flashlight for negating some of that darkness.”
Along with the map, Food & Water Watch provides tools and information for consumers who wish to find non-factory farm sources of meat and dairy and encourages them demand government action through petitions linked at the top of the map. Check it out.
Lead image is a screen shot of the Factory Farm Map by Food & Water Watch.