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Farmers Holding Summit On Environment, Economy And Factory Farms In Green Bay

Attendees Hope To Learn How To Deal With Large-Scale Farms

Socially Responsible Agriculture Project (BY-NC-ND)

The first ever Factory Farm Summit will be held in Green Bay this weekend.

Environmental groups opposed to large scale farms known as concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, are sponsoring the event. In Wisconsin, CAFOs are farms with more than 700 animals.

One session will focus on how large-scale farms impact local communities and will be led by retired ag economist John Ikerd from the University of Missouri.

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Ikerd, who grew up on a small farm, said he used to advocate large-scale farming was a way to make food more affordable, but that hasn’t worked out.

“Since the mid-1990s, food prices have actually increased faster than the overall rate of inflation, so even though you may be reducing the cost of production at the farm level, we’re really turning the agricultural industry over to the large agri-business corporations,” Ikerd said.

The other sessions will focus on environmental damage considered to be caused by CAFOs, teaching locals about state and federal regulations, and the legislative process.

Ikerd said the summit isn’t meant to be an anti-agriculture session.

“I’m very much in support of animal agriculture as an essential part of a sustainable agriculture,” he said. “I’m just opposed to this particular kind of agriculture because of negative social, environmental, and in the long run, economic impacts.”

Ikerd will give a history of CAFOs at the summit, which he said began after World War II in the poultry industry and now affects Wisconsin’s dairy farms.

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