Data Shows 20 Percent Growth in Factory Farming In Past 5 Years

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.


W. C
W. Cabout a year ago


William C
William Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for sharing.

Sheri D.
Sheri D6 years ago

Factory farming is all about the dollar. Stop eating meat, and they will go out of business.

nora l.
nora l6 years ago

This is the opposite of progress.

Diane L.
Diane L6 years ago

No "character counter" showing, and didn't want to get cut in my neighborhood, I will buy canned goods, flour, sugar, etc. at the grocery store, but never meat or veggies/fruits. I get what I don't grow myself at a local ORGANIC fruit/vegetable stand that is only open between April 1st and Sept. 30th, and meat from a local butcher shop that raises their own beef, and does custom slaughter for others who ONLY raise grass-fed, organic, and antibiotic and hormone FREE animals and takes part of that in lieu of fees. Dairy is also obtained locally from those farms I'm personally familiar with and eggs are obtained from a neighbor who has 4 pet hens.

Diane L.
Diane L6 years ago

I can't send any of you ladies a GREEN STAR! WAAAAA.....already have this week.

Anyway, last night I went to the hardware store and was too hungry to wait to get home to eat, so went across the street to Subway. I was the ONLY customer in there that late and asked the guy at the counter about what a new sandwich was like (BBQ Pulled Pork) and he explained it. I told him some I have encountered in online discussions about nutrition MIGHT have an issue with where the meat came from, since it sounds like old fashioned TEXAS BBQ style. He said he had no issue with eating meat, only with factory farms and when he was in college, went vegetarian for 6 months because he thought he was doing the right thing. He got very sick, unfortunately. He grew up and went to college in Eastern Washington, and fortunately, over there, MOST of the livestock is out in huge, open grasslands and pastures, but he said there have been a few factory farms popping up.

Yes, as Lilithe said, we can only VOTE by boycotting that source of our food and educating everyone else that we encounter.

Past Member
.6 years ago

Good article! I just saw the news that becomes the world's first, largest, secure and most effective dating site for bisexual, bi-curious singles and bi couples. Join it, I believe you will have more fun on it!

Erica B.
Erica B6 years ago

I am blessed that there are NO factory farms in my county and 3/4 of the surrounding counties. It does make it easier for me to purchase humanely sourced meat and dairy products. I posted the Food And Water Watch site to my Facebook wall, in hopes that more people will learn about the atrocities of factory farming.

And it is SO don't need to give up meat and dairy to be part of the solution. Actually, being a vegan is a passive way to fight factory farming. It's easy to just "give up" meat's harder to FIGHT and FIGHT HARD to abolish all factory farms and assure that farm animals have a cruelty free life. By supporting LOCAL HUMANE FARMS through purchasing their products, you are helping THEM stay in business and helping to CLOSE the factory farms, from lack of business! You have to hurt factory farms by supporting their rivals, the humane, small local family farms!

Pego R.
Pego R6 years ago


As has been pointed out several times, all aspects of agriculture have been industrialized and our croplands are made actively inimical to wildlife, to the people who work those fields and to us, the consumers.

There are some really excellent resources out there to avoid that. Here are some links to avoid the GMOs, CAFOs, Industrial Ag in general. The serious thing to avoid, both for sustainability's sake and to reduce real harm to wildlife, is to avoid food miles. Locavore Network offers a search engine but I notice that is does not get everyone so and

You can find CAFO-free meats and eggs through the American Grassfed Association and the people that treat their milch cows decently via a website called I found mine that way and get to see some adorable Jerseys whenever I get to go. I've even taken my Sunday school kids to see a "Real Dairy" there, where they got to see the girls milked and pet the numerous creatures that cohabit on their farm. Lovely place.

I like a resource that allows a buyer to come out and look over the place to make sure that the farmer is ethical and humane. Another good resource is

Avoiding GMOs