Wrong philosophies eventually come to an end, and it is interesting watching it happen to factory farming. The elections brought about a change that you may not have heard about. California voters voted to do away with cages for laying hens, and the typical very small pens for hogs and veal calves. Most of the white eggs in grocery stores are laid by hens packed in small cages about five or six hens per cage. Each hen has the equivalent of a space eight inches by eight inches, which is less than a sheet of paper. The cages are in long rows, stacked three or four high, filling the huge chicken houses with tens of thousands of laying hens. The hens live their entire life squeezing out as many eggs as possible to fill the grocery stores with cheap eggs so that Americans have surplus money to buy iPods, cell phones, plasma TV’s, and other "necessary" items. The hens can’t exercise, breathe fresh air, or enjoy the sunshine. Factory farming has reduced millions of laying hens to mere egg laying machines that produce eggs that are barely fit to eat. California is one of the largest egg producing states in the nation, and they are leading the way in putting an end to the cruelest of the factory farming methods.
The factory farm broiler chicken industry is in trouble. Pilgrim’s Pride, the largest broiler producer, is almost bankrupt. Their stocks have fallen to 31 cents a share! Tyson Food is following closely on their heels. Tyson’s stocks have now fallen to where Pilgrim’s Pride’s stocks were several months ago, because Tyson’s poultry division is losing huge amounts of money.
For years the business philosophy has been for farms to get bigger and bigger. The small family farm could not compete. Now we are seeing that trend of bigger and bigger starting to collapse as the big companies can’t handle their huge debt load. The transition back to smaller more sustainable farms will probably be difficult, but the end result will be better quality food.
We live in some very interesting times.