Traditional Versus Factory Farms

Prairie Gleanings

Is technological advancement considered evil only in the farming industry?

Published on: November 11, 2009

This whole condemnation of technology within farming practices is getting out of hand.


Today, I read an Op-Ed piece from the New York Times ( The use of the word "traditional" immediately jumped off the page and raised my blood pressure. Essentially, the author uses "traditional" as the antithesis of "factory farm." Thus, if you have cows on pasture, you're traditional. If you operate a CAFO, you're an evil factory farmer.


This got me thinking. What do most folks imagine when they hear the term "reporter?" Do you think of a man wearing a suit, topped off with a fedora that carries a worn "press" card on the brim? He furiously takes notes, then runs back to the newsroom to bang out an article on his typewriter.


I assure you, this is an antiquated, Norman Rockwell version of a reporter. If the industry still operated in this manner, you'd receive a fraction of today's news reports, and it would be much later than you're used to. Just think, what if 9-11 happened and you read about it in the newspaper on Sept. 12.


However, no one's assaulting the industry because they no longer use typewriters and rulers. The use of word processors, design software, streaming video and online publications has not created an evil "factory reporter." (While I'm well aware of folks' irritation with media bias, I don't think that's a result of technology.)


So, technology is a good thing in serving our news needs and wants. However, it's a bad thing when we're talking about animal production? Would critics really be happy if we solely relied on 1900s production methods? We'd be feeding a fraction of the growing population; and it would cost much more.


Perhaps Prairie Farmer should go back and do things the way we did in the 1920s. The production process would take much longer, require more people, and in the end, it would cost more to produce the magazine. As producers know, we'd either go out of business or have to charge more for our product. Hmmm….sounds a bit like the organic vs. conventional debate.


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  1. MSMO says:

    Your comparison of factory farming to word processors is completely ridiculous. Those who fight factory farming are not fighting against advancement in technology but rather the negative consequences that occur from factory farming. These consequences impact our world greatly and include: deforestation, rendering antibiotics ineffective, accelerating climate change, fostering the spread of pandemics, contaminating air and drinking water, and abuse of all animals raised on factory farms. How many of these negative consequences arise from word processors?

  2. Jerry Foster says:

    Your point is well taken Josh.

    Along the same thought process:
    Should we shunned technological advances in medicine and prevent the progression of  huaman health ?

    Should all cars be manufactured at local shops that only employ a few workers?

    Why don't we buy all of our clothing from a seamstress that lives within 100 miles of our homes?

    If utilizing new technology is bad for the environment, shouldn't the Sierra Club be conducting all of their business using TRS 80 computers?

    I don't see why people want take something as important as food and turn it back to the 1960's, but they want the latest technology for everything else.

  3. MoFarmFamily says:

    You make some very good points. If we eliminate all the technology that we have gained through the years we would never be able to feed all the hungry people of this world. I love that all the people who want to feed the starving people in the world are also the people who want to do away with CAFOs and the technology we have to produce as much crop as we do. If we did away with all the technology and CAFOs we would not be able to feed ourselves much less the world. 

  4. Jerry Foster says:

    Bea, you comments interest me.  I've read your comments on articles at Meatingplace on-line and they are very consistent.

    You always include a remark about animals being sentient beings. Recently you have started talking about enslavement of animals.  I get the opinion that you consider animals on par with humans, especially since slavery is a human to human institution.

    Do you genuinely believe that animals have equal value to humans?

    Do you really believe that it is wrong for man kind to use animals for food, fiber and work?

    I get the impression that your belief lean toward earth worship or aetheism.  What do you believe about the Judeo-Christian God?

  5. Bea Elliott says:

    Your analogy with the reporter's ancient typewriter vs a modern pc would be wonderful except for one thing: animals are not "things".  A system of keeping innocent, sentient beings enslaved, confined and denied every natural habit is unspeakably cruel.  I'm glad to have discovered this current "system" of keeping animals in "factory farms" a few years ago.  It allowed me to re-evaluate exactly what the "necessity" for "food" animals exactly was... I discovered that no "necessity" for their flesh exists at all!  Man can thrive on a compassionate plant based Vegan diet.  Indeed it is better for human health, better for the environment and certainly better for the animals.  I'm certain more people make the connection that enslaving and killing innocent beings in the name of profit and an unhealthy/unsustainable "food" is an archaic, passe' practice.