What's the beef with factory farming?

Despite countless ethical issues with intensive systems, new factory farms are still being built across the country.


Most people associate factory farms with cruel, cramped and unhygienic conditions. They’d be right of course, but there are less well-known consequences of these intensive farms, too.  

Factory farms are contributing significantly to the climate crisis 

Agriculture is responsible for 8.5% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, with a further 14.5% generated by land use change (mainly deforestation to clear land for food production).  

This means that almost a quarter of global emissions stem from agriculture and related land use1. In the UK, nearly all agricultural emissions of methane, nitrous oxide and ammonia are derived from livestock production2

Nitrous oxide has almost 300 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide2 leading to an acceleration in warming temperatures, with ammonia contributing significantly to the acidification of soils and rain, air pollution and harmful damage to habitats such as woodlands, heaths and lakes.  

We’re calling for more transparency on the origin of animal products, a subsidy policy where animal and climate-friendly farms receive public funding, additional charges for animal products, and mandatory animal welfare standards for the public catering industry.  

You can read more about this in our report: Animal welfare for the climate.

Factory farms are hotspots for zoonotic disease outbreaks 

The H1N1 strain of swine flu and the H5N1 and H7N9 strains of avian flu originated in factory farms. 

 Zoonoses (diseases that spread between animals and humans) account for roughly 60% of all infections in humans and 75% of all emerging infectious diseases3. They also cause around 2.5 billion cases of human illnesses and 2.7 million deaths each year4

You can find out more about how animal welfare is key to preventing future pandemics and maintaining healthy ecosystems in our report: How to Prevent the Next Pandemic.

Factory farms cause antibiotic resistance 

Due to the extremely poor welfare standards practiced in factory farms, antibiotics are routinely used to prevent illnesses among animals.  

When antibiotics are overused, the bacteria they are meant to kill adapt and develop resistances5. In 2019 alone, 1.3 million deaths were caused by antibiotic-resistant infections6, and by 2050 it is predicted that it could cause 10 million deaths annually7

Our plan of action

We want to make sure we’re doing everything in our power to ensure no new factory farms are built across the country. 

Hundreds of planning applications for new farms or extensions come into local authorities every year that seek to grow our number of intensive systems or ‘mega farms’, and we want to put a stop to this.  

We will be writing letters to local authorities that are considering applications for factory farms in the hopes that they will reject the proposal, but we will need your help to convince them. 

Your support in sending these letters could prevent the suffering of thousands of animals and have a long-lasting impact on animal welfare.  

We hope we can call on you to speak up for animals!

Oppose current planning applications and speak up for animals today

Take action!
Animal Charity - Daisy

Daisy Sopel

Junior Campaigner

Daisy works in the Campaigns Team at FOUR PAWS UK, supporting her colleagues in the delivery of our wild, farm and companion animal campaigns. She has a background in animal behaviour and welfare and has almost a decade’s worth of experience working with sanctuaries and wildlife rehabilitation centres.

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