Environmental Effects of Factory Farming

New Zealand is proud of its clean, green image. But our waterways, land and reputation are under threat from factory farming. Any kind of farming can cause environmental damage, but factory farming especially has a negative impact on the natural environment.


Factory farming is unsustainable

Factory farming is unsustainable, with overcrowded farms overwhelming local ecosystems, leading to depletion of natural resources. The need to grow large amounts of high-energy feed leads to increasing deforestation and soil erosion; and the pollution of water, soil and air by agrochemicals and manure waste is already a huge concern.

Factory farming and pollution

Animal waste can be a big problem - just one individual cow produces 15 times more effluent than a human! Of course all farmed animals produce waste, but in overcrowded factory farms the problem is multiplied. The daily pile-up of excrement can lead to major environmental problems. Some farmers use large ponds or lagoons to hold waste, which can overflow into waterways. The residue of pesticides also causes health and environmental problems, as it seeps into ground water. A 2015 New Zealand report found that “pollution from more agricultural intensification in rural areas has become the worst threat to freshwater ecosystems.”

Factory farming is inefficient

Raising animals for food is already grossly inefficient, because while animals eat large quantities of grain, soybeans, oats and corn, they produce comparatively small amounts of meat, dairy products, or eggs in return. For example it takes 10kg of grain to produce 1kg of meat.

In a factory farming system this effect is intensified. The modern meat industry also wastes a huge quantity of water, with meat production being particularly water-intensive in indoor, intensive factory farming systems.

Factory farming threatens our international ‘brand'

As the more traditional farms in New Zealand are turned into animal food factories, the weaker our ‘clean, green, 100% pure' image becomes in international markets.

To maintain and develop our image we need to become world leaders, not further expand factory farming. There is a more sustainable future for New Zealand, which will give us a competitive edge with increasingly receptive international consumers.