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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