The following selection of articles are about issues that concern PCIFAP and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Commission.
Final Report: Putting Meat on The Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America
Executive Summary PDF (2.7 MB)
Full Report PDF (6.2 MB)
Frequently Asked Questions PDF (164 KB)
August 31, 2009
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
According to media reports, governors from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Wisconsin have asked for assistance for swine producers in their states to compensate for market losses caused by the economic downturn and the outbreak of swine flu. Those same reports indicate the governors have asked for $200 million to help the swine industry in their states: $50 million for additional federal food program purchases before the end of the current fiscal year, $50 million for additional purchases in the next fiscal year from commodity purchasing programs, and $100 million for the swine industry of the $1 billion appropriated for addressing the swine flu virus. On behalf of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, I am writing to urge that, as with the assistance for the auto industry and the financial sectors, this federal assistance should be tied to retooling and improving the swine industry.
Antibiotics and Industrial Farming
Every day, doctors use antibiotics to treat thousands of sick children and adults. Humans depend on these life-saving medicines for their personal health. But did you know that as much as 70 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are being fed to cattle, swine, and poultry on industrial animal farms, for purposes other than treating disease?
Click here to learn more about how antibiotic use in food production threatens human health in the Human Health and Industrial Farming program by The Pew Charitable Trusts
Des Moines Register, Sept. 23, 2008
"Large-scale livestock confinements are far less financially lucrative to communities and pay workers less than medium-sized operations that tend to spend more money locally, a report to be released today concludes.
The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production requested the report by David Andrews and Timothy Kautza.
The co-authors reviewed 40 years’ worth of peer-reviewed empirical studies on social effects of industrial livestock production, including work by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, Ohio State University and the University of Missouri.
But the report, which comes as Iowa’s long fight over large-scale confinements is intensifying, also is sure to be controversial."
Read More (Subscription required)
(Washington, DC - June 24, 2008) Dr. Jay Graham, consultant to the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production and research fellow for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, was invited to testify in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions to discuss the "Emergence of the Superbug: Antimicrobial Resistance in the U.S.
Summary of Statement
Hill Appearance Comes Just Weeks AfterCommission Released Final Recommendations
(Washington, DC - June 5, 2008) -- Robert P. Martin, executive director of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, today reiterated the Commission’s call for a phase out and ban on antimicrobials for non-therapeutic use in food animals. Mr. Martin testified at a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on the reauthorization of the Animal Drug User Fee Act. Mr. Martin’s testimony comes just one month after the Commission
released the findings and recommendation from its two-year examination of the impact of
intensive confinement practices in industrial farm animal production. “Capitol Hill has been quick to recognize that through the diligence of our Commissioners there are tangible steps that can be taken right away to curb the overuse of anti-microbials,” said Martin. “Eliminating the non-therapeutic use of these drugs will begin to lessen the problem of anti-biotic resistance.”
Editorial, New York Times, May 31, 2008
"In the past month, two new reports have examined how farm animals are raised in this country. The report funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts calls the prevailing system industrial farm animal production. The report from the Union of Concerned Scientists prefers the term confined animal feeding operations. No matter what you call it, it adds up to the same thing. Millions of animals are crowded together in inhumane conditions, causing significant environmental threats and unacceptable health risks for workers, their neighbors and all the rest of us."
The North Coast Journal, May 29, 2008
The North Coast Journal's Ari LeVaux discussed several food and agriculture topics via emal with Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Barack Obama. Below is an excerpt of LeVaux's Q & A:
"A recent study by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production concluded that factory farms pose unacceptable risks to public health, the environment and animal welfare. As president, what would you do to ensure a safe, humane and clean meat supply?
As president, I would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to strictly monitor and regulate pollution from large factory farms, with tough fines for those that violate environmental standards. I also support efforts to provide more meaningful local control over these factory farms.
As for protecting our nation’s food supply, USDA and the Food and Drug Administration need more authority to issue and enforce recalls for contaminated food. I support efforts to improve federal food safety surveillance to better improve our ability to identify, contain and prevent outbreaks. We also need to expand resources to inform the public when an outbreak happens. With regard to our meat supply, I support the USDA’s recent decision to ban all nonambulatory cattle from slaughter. I would also increase funding for meat inspectors to ensure compliance with current federal laws."
(Washington, DC – May 21, 2008) The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (PCIFAP) responded today to a public request from the Food and Drug Administration for comments regarding the “emerging threat of antimicrobial resistance.” The FDA, among other things, is looking for suggestions on “possible strategies fostering prudent use to prevent the development of antimicrobial resistance.”
PCIFAP’s recently released final report describes the serious threats industrial farm animal production poses on public health, the environment, rural communities and animal welfare. Chief among the public health threats is the overuse of antimicrobials in food animal production. The Commission’s final report contains several recommendations to immediately address the threat, which include the eventual ban of using antibiotics and other antimicrobials for non-therapeutic use (i.e. growth promotion) in food animals.
To read a letter sent by Robert Martin, PCIFAP Executive Director to the FDA
Op-Ed, Robert P. Martin, Executive Director, PCIFAP The Salt Lake Tribune, May 09, 2008
"In 1950 the United States produced about the name number of hogs as it does today, on significantly more farms, smaller farms and with many more workers. At first glance it could appear that the public has only benefited from our rapid agricultural industrialization, through lower food costs, yet the change has come with large hidden price tags that we're slowly beginning to discover.
The middle of a worldwide food crisis may seem an odd time to worry about a system that's delivered enormous amounts of relatively cheap and reasonably high quality food. But in fact long-term sustainability issues lie at the heart of decisions we'll need to make going forward, because the current system poses unacceptable risks to public health, the environment, our rural communities and the welfare of the animals themselves.
That's the conclusion of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, which recently released its report following two and a half years of work. After meetings held around the country, public hearings, on-site visits, input from stakeholders and reams of scientific papers, the troubles have become far clearer. "
WAMU 88.5 FM, American University Radio, Washington, DC (NPR), May 7, 2008
"Large-scale farming is a big part of modern agriculture. Many of the meats we buy come from factory-style farms. But recent research indicates those facilities may pose environmental and health hazards, and that they aren't necessary to satisfy global food demands. We discuss these findings and examine the future of farming.
Robert Martin, Executive Director, Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production
Kay Johnson Smith, Executive Vice President, Animal Agriculture Alliance"
MP4 Download (25.6 MB) or WAMU audio clip stream
(Washington, DC – May 8, 2008) The response to the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production’s (PCIFAP) final report and recommendations has been overwhelming. Influential elected officials, health, environmental and farm organizations and newspaper editorial boards are weighing in on the Commission’s report and recommendations, which, if followed, could
help alleviate the negative effects the industrial farm animal production system currently poses on public health, the environment, rural communities and animal welfare. The report garnered so much attention that the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy invited PCIFAP staff to debrief several of its staff members last week on the Commission’s report.
Final Report: Putting Meat on The Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America
Executive Summary (pdf - 2.7 MB)
Full Report (pdf - 6.2 MB)
The current industrial farm animal production (IFAP) system often poses unacceptable risks to public health, the environment and the welfare of the animals themselves, according to an extensive 2½-year examination conducted by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (PCIFAP), in a study released April 29, 2008.
Commissioners have determined that the negative effects of the IFAP system are too great and the scientific evidence is too strong to ignore. Significant changes must be implemented and must start now. And while some areas of animal agriculture have recognized these threats and have taken action, it is clear that the industry has a long way to go.
Below are the Commission’s key recommendations.
1. Ban the non-therapeutic use of antimicrobials in food animal production to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance to medically important antibiotics and other microbials.
2. Implement a disease monitoring program for food animals to allow 48-hour trace-back of those animals through aspects of their production, in a fully integrated and robust national database.
3. Treat IFAP as an industrial operation and implement a new system to deal with farm waste to replace the inflexible and broken system that exists today, to protect Americans from the adverse environmental and human health hazards of improperly handled IFAP waste.
4. Phase out the most intensive and inhumane production practices within a decade to reduce the risk of IFAP to public health and improve animal wellbeing (i.e., gestation crates and battery cages).
5. Federal and state laws need to be amended and enforced to provide a level playing field for producers when entering contracts with integrators.
6. Increase funding for, expand and reform, animal agriculture research.
The PCIFAP consists of 15 Commissioners who bring individual knowledge and expertise in diverse fields, including public policy, veterinary medicine, public health, agriculture, animal welfare, the food industry and rural society. The Commission assessed the current state of industrial animal agriculture based on site visits to production facilities across the country; consultation with industry stakeholders, public health, medical and agriculture experts; public meetings; peer-reviewed technical reports; staff research; and Commissioners’ own expertise. PCIFAP is a project of The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
A lack of consistent and transparent regulations governing concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) is underscored by a report released April 21, 2008 by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (PCIFAP) and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). The report is entitled Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations: A Survey of State Policies.
The survey highlights the patchwork of regulation from state to state, and in many cases, a complete lack of regulation in areas that are essential to protecting public health and the environment. While many states do have regulations beyond federal requirements, it is clear that the regulation has not caught up with the CAFO model of food animal production. Kentucky, for example, is contemplating whether or not to even continue regulating CAFOs. And other states, like New Mexico, have limited policies on animal feeding operations and rely on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate CAFOs in their states. What is actually being done to regulate CAFOs within the EPA delegated states is obscure. South Dakota refused to respond to the survey and Mississippi responded only minimally. It should be noted that all information requested from state agencies is supposed to be available to the public.
The survey also revealed that several states have made strides in their attempt to mitigate the potential threats posed by CAFOs. Oregon, for example, has gone beyond regulating just those facilities that fit the federal definition of a CAFO, and thus regulates more than double the number of animal feeding operations that federal law requires. California, a state that faces ongoing water quality issues, appears to be working diligently to curb any runoff from CAFOs into water sources. While this survey showed that some states appear to be setting comparably robust examples of CAFO regulations, the survey did not address the actual enforcement of their respective policies.
For a copy of the report contact NCSL
Op-Ed, Robert P. Martin, PCIFAP Executive Director , March 21, 2008
Recently, the Bush administration found agreement with a group of lobbyists for some of the nation's biggest industrial farms. What the public got out of it was a proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to eliminate the requirements for industrial farming facilities to disclose toxic gas emissions, as currently mandated by law. While few could fault the EPA for trying to take the concerns of the animal agriculture industry into consideration, developing a new policy on agriculture air emissions that ignores the concerns, advice and input from any other stakeholder just plain stinks.
Philadelphia Inquirer, March 19, 2008
"A leading Democrat yesterday asked the EPA's top official to explain why the agency has proposed to exempt corporate pig and poultry farms from air pollution reporting rules.
House Energy and Commerce Chairman John D. Dingell said the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule appears to run contrary to the findings of one EPA study that warned of human health risks in big industrial agriculture. " Subcription required)
Washington Post Investigations Blog, March 7, 2008
" Environmental scientists and agribusiness have long been at odds over the impact of discharges from industrial-sized hog, poultry, beef and dairy farms. The latest arena for their battle: a blue-ribbon commission that has been studying the problem for three years.
The panel is expected to soon issue a major report calling for tighter regulation of microbial and chemical contaminants from farms that often keep thousands of animals in close confinement. But even as the group nears publication of its findings, accusations of interference, misinterpretation and intimidation have been flying, reports The Post's Dan Morgan.''
The Tribune (Greeley, Colorado), March 7, 2008
Iowa's U.S. Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) expressed their concerns over JBS SA's plan to purchase National Beef and Smithfield Foods' beef division. In a press release Sen. Grassley said the deal will further consolidate the U.S. beef industry and "reduce market opportunities for family farmers and increase prices and provide less choice for consumers." The Tribune cited a Dow Jones Newswire story that says Senator Harkin, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, "is urging the U.S. Department of Justice to carefully evaluate the effect the acquisition will have on producers and consumers."
Letter to DOJ from Robert Martin, PCIFAP Executive Director
Washington Post, Feb. 26, 2008
According to the Washington Post, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was pressured by industry lobbyists and lawmakers from agricultural states to propose a new rule that would exempt industrial farms from reporting "their emissions of toxic gases, despite findings by the agency's scientists that the gases pose a health threat."
Letter to EPA Administrator from Robert Martin, PCIFAP Executive Director
EPA News Release, Feb. 20, 2007
EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson announced the appointments of 30 people to serve on the newly-formed Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Advisory Committee. According to an EPA news release the members were selected from a pool of more than 200 applicants. The EPA says the group represents "large and small farmers, ranchers, and rural communities; rural suppliers, marketers, and processors; academics and researchers who study environmental issues impacting agriculture; and, environmental and conservation groups." The EPA has asked the committee to focus on issues ranging from greenhouse gas emissions to managing waste from livestock operations.
Current Committee Members (2012-2014)
New York Times, Nov. 20, 2007
The USDA says it made a mistake when it agreed to allow Tyson Foods to use a “raised without antibiotics” label on its fresh chicken products reports New York Times reporter Andrew Martin. According to agriculture officials, says Martin, they changed their mind when they realized Tyson’s feeding plan lists animal medications called ionophores. Martin says the department claims it has long considered ionophores to be antibiotics.
The Boston Globe, Nov. 12, 2007
“The latest example (of how animals can make people sick), says Boston Globe reporter Stephen Smith, is “pigs and MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).” Canadian researchers from the University of Guelph linked workers on hog farms to a strain of the antibiotic resistant bacterium. “That’s potentially powerful evidence that community cases of MRSA, which until recent years had been limited to hospital patients, may have originated in animals,” reports Smith. Subscription required
UPI, August 28, 2007
Purdue University’s College of Agriculture developed a new informational Web site about concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). As part of the Purdue Extension Service the animal science department hopes the site will be used by people who make decisions about CAFOs in Indiana.
“Let’s say a zoning board has to make a decision about allowing a producer to build a CAFO within 5 miles of an elementary school,” said Paul Ebner, Purdue Extension expert in animal science and Web site operator. “Now, the zoning board can visit the CAFO Web site and read about the environmental and public health issues of animal agriculture that could potentially affect children attending the school and sort myth from fact” says Ebner.
(July 20, 2007)
The effects of pollution on the environment and public health is a hot issue on Capitol Hill these days. In fact, the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a significant agreement Wednesday morning by officially recognizing that both agencies could better serve communities suffering from environmental health problems by combining their resources. CDC Director Julie Gerberding and EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson signed a memorandum of understanding that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports will help the agencies be “more productive.”
Under the agreement the agencies will launch pilot initiatives in Boston, MA; Cerro Gordo, IA; Cherokee Nation, OK; and Savannah, GA. None of the communities are dealing with animal waste issues. When asked if communities near concentrated animal feeding operations would fall under the agreement, EPA officials said everything is on the table and that communities themselves will decide what environmental health issues should have the highest priorities. One issue Dr. Gerberding said is high on the list of many U.S. citizens and her office is climate change and how it affects public health.
Telegraph, July 19. 2007
Japanese scientists claim the production of 2.2lbs of beef puts out just as much greenhouse gas as driving a car for three hours, reports the UK’s Telegraph. “Taking into account all the processes involved, they(scientists) said, four average sized steaks generated greenhouse gases with a warming potential equivalent to 80.25lb of carbon dioxide,” the Telegraph reports. It also reports the study found “more than two thirds of the energy used goes towards producing and transporting cattle feed." The study was led by Akifumi Ogino from the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Tsukuba, Japan.
Vernon County Broadcaster, July 18, 2007
Vernon County, Wisconsin is considering a moratorium on large-scale animal feeding operations and an ordinance that would place a cap on the number of animals allowed on those farms reports the Vernon County Broadcaster. The Broadcaster says currently the county “has no countywide zoning, no comprehensive plan, no animal siting ordinance and its manure management ordinance has not been revised for many years.”
Sunday Telegraph, July 15, 2007
Chickens suffer no more stress in battery cages than those hens that roam free say Sydney University researchers. The UK’s Sunday Telegraph reports the scientists “measured corticosterone, a hormone produced in response to stress or fear, in eggs from free-range and caged hens. They found that the levels in both were very similar.” Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals leaders told the Telegraph that the research is contrary with several studies that suggest birds living in battery cages suffer more than those that live in free-range facilities.
Washington Post, May 10, 2007
Researchers at Iowa State University claim group housing systems may produce pigs at a lower cost than individual gestation stalls in hog confinement facilities. Mark Honeyman, animal science professor and coordinator of Iowa State’s Research Farms said, “We found reproductive performance can be maintained or enhanced in well-managed group housing systems for gestating sows, such as deep-bedded hoop barns.” The Associated Press' Amy Lorentzen reports researchers found that group housing may cost as much as 11 percent less per weaned pig than gestation stalls.
New York Times, May 9, 2007
Chemical industry officials tell the New York Times that a second industrial chemical, which U.S. regulators recently found in contaminated pet food, may have been intentionally added by producers to increase profits. “The three chemical makers said Chinese animal feed producers often came to purchase cyanuric acid to blend into their feed because it was cheaper and helped increase protein content,” says Times reporter David Barboza. Originally the FDA and USDA were concerned only about the chemical melamine. But Barboza says the information from the chemical producers may help scientists who were having a difficult time determining the cause of the animal deaths. Scientists tell Barboza that the combination of melamine and cyanuric acid, along with other related compounds, may have caused the formation of crystals in the kidneys of pets and led to kidney failure.
Capital Press, May 8. 2007
Lawmakers from one of Idaho’s biggest dairy counties may impose a temporary moratorium on livestock development says Capital Press’ reporter Dave Wilkins. Wilkins reports “Jerome County officials said they’re worried about water quality and the possibility that the county could be held liable if potato fields are contaminated with dairy waste.” Dairy industry officials told Wilkins the county is rushing ahead with a moratorium that is not necessary and that “folks in Jerome County are not under any imminent peril.”
Washington Post, April 27, 2007
Food and Drug Administration officials announced that federal and state regulators identified 6,000 hogs in seven states that may have eaten contaminated pet food or pet food byproducts says Post reporter Rick Weiss. Agriculture Department officials said no more than 300 of the hogs may have already entered the human food supply. There is also a possibility that some chickens may have eaten chow contaminated by the pet food, which Weiss reports officials believe was tainted with chemicals imported from China.
International Herald Tribune, March 28, 2007
The second-largest hamburger chain announced it would begin buying eggs and pork from suppliers that did not confine animals in cages and crates says IHT's Andrew Martin.
USA Today, March 8, 2007
Researchers at the University of Georgia claim antibiotic resistance in chickens may be transmitted down family lines says USA Today's Elizabeth Weise. In a UGA press release, the lead researcher Dr. Margie Lee said, “These findings suggest that banning antibiotics at the farm level may not be as effective as assumed. We need further studies to identify which management practice would be effective”
The Washington Post, March 4, 2007
"Despite warnings from many of its own experts and health groups the FDA is closer to approving a new antibiotic to treat disease in cattle", says Washington Post reporter Rick Weiss. Weiss says the drug, known as cefquinome, is a highly potent antibiotic often used for serious human infections. So far, according to Weiss, the U.S. has never approved a drug from the class of which cefquinome belongs for use in animals.
The Virginian-Pilot , Feb. 27 2007
Smithfield Foods has promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by at least 6% by 2010 says the Pilot's Philip Walzer. Walser says the move allows Smithfield to join the Chicago Climate Exchange, which is a voluntary market that allows companies to trade pollution credits.
Salon.com, Jan. 18, 2007
Salon’s John Feffer recently focused on food service giants like Sodexho, Aramak and Bon Appétit Management Co. (BAMCO), which are all promoting the use of locally grown foods, and posed the question, “Will the corporate attention give a boost to sustainable agriculture, or defuse the grassroots revolution?” Fair disclosure: NCIFAP Commissioner Fedele Bauccio, is also the CEO and Co-founder of BAMCO.
Washington Post, Jan. 26, 2007
The nation's largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods Inc., announced it will phase out all of its sow gestation crates within 10 years and replace them with group housing pens. Smithfield CEO, C. Larry Pope said customers "have made their views known on the issue of gestation stalls, we are pleased to be taking this precedent-setting step."
International Herald Tribune, Jan. 04, 2007
Using antibiotics to promote growth in chickens may actually be more costly for poultry producers, according to a new study by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study published in this months's edition of the journal Public Health Reports says it used data from a previous report published by the Perdue company on seven million broiler chickens. Researchers claim "The net effect of using GPAs (growth-promoting antibiotics) was a lost value of $ 0.0093 per chicken (about 0.45% of total costs)." The National Chicken Council told the AP the study is flawed becuase it applied average figures for costs that vary across the country. Perdue and the three other major U.S. poultry producers that account for almost 40% of the broiler market reportedly no longer use antibiotics as growth promoters. The National Chicken Council also told the AP that poultry producers use antibiotics primarily to treat disease in animals or to promote animal health, not for growth. However, the Keep Antibiotics Working coalition told the AP "The use of antibiotics for growth is still substantial in the poultry industry..."
UN News Centre, Nov.29, 2006
Citing a new United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report on the livestock sector's impact on the environment, the UN claims "Cattle-rearing generates more global warming greenhouse gases, as measured in CO2 equivalent, than transportation, and smarter production methods, including improved animal diets to reduce enteric fermentation and consequent methane emission, are urgently needed..."
FAO's Livestock, Environment And Development (LEAD) report "Livestock's long shadow, Environmental issues and options"
LA Times, By Marla Cone, Nov. 17, 2006
LA Times' Marla Cone highlights the findings of a series of scientific reports published last week that claim livestock feedlots in the U.S. and many European countries are "poorly regulated, pose health and ecological dangers and are responsible for deteriorating quality of life in America's and Europe's farm regions."
USA Today by Amy Lorentzen, Associated Press
AP's Amy Lorentzen highlights the findings of an Iowa-based non-profit group of scientists that warns more research is needed on ethanol production. Lorentzen quotes the executive vice president of the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), John M. Bonner, as saying "The main thing that we all have to be aware of is the complexity of the feed, food and fuel interaction, and how policy and research have to be conducted in a very conscientious fashion, or we are going to have ourselves out of balance." Bonner also told Lorentzen that in some areas of Iowa, the ethanol industry is already competing with the livestock and poultry industries for corn.
was formed to conduct a comprehensive, fact-based and balanced examination of key aspects of the farm animal industry.