A New Vision for Iowa Food and Agriculture

Read Francis Thicke's new book online. All 35 chapters will be released here on his website in the final month before the election.

From the Industrial Revolution to Industrial Agriculture: The Road to CAFOs

Chapter 1 – From the Industrial Revolution to Industrial Agriculture: The Road to CAFOs.

The Industrial Revolution began in England more than 250 years ago. Newly invented machinery began producing goods that had previously been made by hand.

The Information Age: The Path toward Ecological Crop and Livestock Production

Chapter 2 – The Information Age: The Path toward Ecological Crop and Livestock Production.

The wave of industrialization that ushered animals into CAFOs in industrialized countries didn’t begin in earnest until the latter part of the 20th Century.

Factory Farms vs. Family Farms

Chapter 3 – Factory Farms vs. Family Farms

The term CAFO is commonly used to refer to any animal confinement facility. However, CAFO has a legal definition.

Economics Of CAFOs

Chapter 4 – Economics of CAFOs

Research at the University of Wisconsin has found that grass-based dairies have lower costs ($650 less per cow) and greater profits ($230 more per cow) than CAFO dairies.

Market Concentration

Chapter 5 – Market Concentration

A growing problem in today’s agriculture – that reduces profits returned to farmers – is the increasing concentration of market power in the hands of a few corporations.

How Industrial Agriculture Differs From A Natural Ecology

Chapter 6 – How Industrial Agriculture Differs from a Natural Ecology

The term “sustainable agriculture” has become widely used in the farm press. It is defined in a variety of ways and increasingly it is being co-opted by advocates for conventional agriculture to greenwash the industrial approach to agriculture.

System Leakages Become Pollutants

Chapter 7 – System Leakages Become Pollutants

Large CAFOs produce large volumes of manure. One hog produces two to four times as much waste as an adult human. According to an EPA estimate, a farm with 2,500 dairy cattle will produce as much waste as a city of 411,000 people.

Agriculture And Climate Change

Chapter 8 – Agriculture And Climate Change

The release of nitrous oxide from soils is by far the largest source of GHG emissions from agriculture in the United States. Nitrous oxide emissions from soils can come from soil organic matter, legumes, manure and other sources, but the largest source is from synthetic nitrogen fertilizer.

When Manure Is Not Manure

Chapter 9 – When Manure is not Manure

CAFO proponents attempt to downplay the insufferable odor of CAFO waste by saying “manure is manure.” They argue that manure has been around for 10,000 years, so people who cannot tolerate being around CAFO manure should not live out in the countryside.

Health Effects Of CAFOs

Chapter 10 – Health effects of CAFOs

A 2006 study by the University of Iowa found that Iowa children attending school near a CAFO had a 24.6 percent asthma rate compared to 11.7 percent for children at a control school.