Practical Issues > Factory Farming - Index > Farming Index

Corporate-owned operations are danger to people, animals.

Agroterrorism was the topic at a meeting of the Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce & Industry last week, and it featured a visit from a counterterrorism expert with the FBI's Philadelphia office. Perhaps officials in Lancaster - the agricultural heartland of Southeastern Pennsylvania - were concerned with sinister plots to poison feed supplies, or to infect farm animals with mad cow disease?

Hardly. Their concern: Animal activists with video cameras going public with undercover footage taken inside massive egg production facilities.

Lancaster County's peaceful and pastoral way of life has certainly been shaken in recent years, but not by a few camera-toting citizen investigators. The change is due primarily to the growth of large-scale animal farming, often called "factory farming" or "industrial farming," in which family-run farms and green pastures are replaced with corporate-owned farms with large-scale agricultural operations. The result of this growing trend is loss of control - if not bankruptcy - for small farmers, health and environmental hazards for those who live nearby, and intense animal cruelty.
My organization, Hugs for Puppies, conducted an investigation of Kreider Farms, which houses a whopping 3.5 million chickens at its five egg-laying plants in Lancaster County. The investigation (online at revealed conditions standard in most large egg-laying facilities: hens and eggs covered in feces; live hens living in cages with the decomposing bodies of dead hens; and hens packed so tightly in cages that they could not turn around.
Those concerned with the impact of factory farming would do wise to "shell" out a little more money for organic and free-range eggs, or eliminate eggs from their diet altogether. And if Lancaster County officials want their community to return to a more peaceful, pastoral way of life, they would do best to make factory farming a thing of the past.

Nick Cooney ( is the director of Hugs for Puppies, a Philadelphia animal-rights group.

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