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Poverty and factory farming

Battery farmed chickens, Bali

Hunger is a global emergency. As many as 2 billion people live in poverty, facing hunger and deprivation.

Approximately 75 percent of the world's poor live in rural areas. The majority are farmers or depend on agriculture, yet they do not produce or earn enough to meet their basic needs.

Tackling poverty means addressing rural problems.

Is factory farming the answer?

Factory farming was once promoted as a way to provide cheap and plentiful protein.

However, there are often hidden costs of factory farming: climate change and environmental degradation, loss of livelihoods and suffering for billions of animals.

Environment and climate

Livestock production is responsible for 7 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions globally (9 percent of all carbon dioxide, 37 percent of all methane and 64 percent of all nitrous oxide emissions).

It is one of the largest polluting sectors – including phosphorous, nitrogen and pesticide contamination of water.

Destroying livelihoods

Factory farms are characterized by high output and efficiency at all costs. As a result they contribute to rural unemployment and migration to urban areas.

Moderate- and small-scale farmers may be forced out of business by large competitors. In Santa Catarina, Brazil, there were 130,000 pig producers in 1990. Increasing industrialization meant only 16,000 were left by 2000.

In contrast, moderate-scale, humane farms can benefit farmers’ livelihoods by increasing profits, creating and retaining jobs, and adding value to the supply chain.

Destabilizing food security

Intensive farming of chickens, pigs and cows requires huge amounts of feed. A third of the world’s farm land is used to produce feed for animals, not humans. Because of this, the rise in intensive farming of animals is likely to be an increasingly important factor in global food insecurity.

Real solutions

WSPA’s Model Farm Project, carried out in partnership with Food Animal Initiative (FAI) in locations in Asia and Latin America provides a live, practical demonstration of the benefits of humane farming.


It shows governments that more sustainable farming can be both cost-effective and kinder to animals, the land and people.

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