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Today, small time farmers across the United States are stuck between a rock and a hard place due to unfair and unjust pressures put on these family run farms by mega corporations. This pressure has made it harder and harder for farmers to make ends meet to properly care for the health and wellbeing of their livestock. Unfortunately, nearly all farmers have to choose between, either, treating their animals humanely and making a small profit, or signing with a mega corporation to inhumanely raise livestock for a slightly larger profit. Poultry farms throughout the United States serve as a great example for how hard it is to compete with these corporations.
The reality is that these mega corporations came in and changed the age-old standards of ethical farming. When looking at poultry farms, the price of meat and eggs has remained too low for too long for smaller farmers to compete and make a difference. Therefore, the poultry farmers have to make a tough choice between selling at the farmers’ markets, or signing deals with mega corporations for a better profit.
Factory farming, which is controlled by big businesses and corporations, are notorious for their inhumane treatment of animals. Poultry farmers, most of the time, have to compete with these mega corporations that find nothing ethically wrong with packing chickens into crates so small that they cannot move, failing to care for the medical needs in order to raise a bird bigger, faster, and cheaper. By completely neglecting any concern or care for the chickens, and placing these animals in horrific, unsanitary, and tortuous environments, big corporations are able to mass produce more eggs and poultry products at a discounted price. In exchange for money, they opt to torture animals.
This, in turn, drives down the price of poultry and eggs, considerably. Today, most farmers only make pennies per bird, due to the mass corporations that can afford to only obtain a marginal profit per animal because they own so many. Put in simpler terms, to make a $100, a mega corporation might only need to make 10 cents per chicken, since they have 1000 chickens. However, a small time farmer, who only has 100 chickens — but keeps them humanely, cares for their needs, and feeds them real food that is not genetically modified — would need to make $10 per chicken. This means that a small time farmer simply cannot compete with larger corporations that specialize in poultry.
Ultimately, they, either, have to raise their productivity and, in doing so, sign a contract with a mega corporation, or remain small and sell at the farmer’s markets. Either way, the end result is the unfair treatment of poultry farmers and the continued mistreatment and abuse of chickens.
Not surprisingly, many smaller chicken farmers are reporting feeling extremely disgruntled and downright depressed over the current state of the whole enterprise. They remember the days, in decades past, when they could care for their chickens in an ethical and humane manner and still turn a profit because it was just them selling along with other farmers who grew for their towns. Now, you can buy the same brand of chicken all over the country. Because of this, fewer and fewer farmers are able to act ethically and earn enough to stay in business.
But there is hope. You as a consumer have the power to help these marginalized farmers and their animals who, ultimately, suffer the most. It is vital for all Americans to petition their governments — local, state, and federal — and demand that stricter laws and regulations be put into place in order to protect animal rights. Stricter laws will accomplish one of two goals: either, factory farmers will be driven out of business, or factory farms will be forced to treat their animals humanely and ethically. It is essential to keep in mind, that these larger corporations are lobbying lawmakers and petitioning to have their agendas upheld and undermine the legitimacy of truly dedicated and just farmers.
If factory farms shut down completely, then smaller farms will be able to thrive and prosper without having to succumb to barbaric practices. On the other hand, if these farms do abide by the laws and regulations which protect animal rights, then poultry farmers will be able to work in a humane setting and not be expected to abuse and mistreat animals in order to turn a profit.
Either way, the farmer and the chickens will win and the corporations, which exploit farmers and torture innocent animals, will be thwarted in their nefarious actions.
Originally published on HuffPost.