Land Use and Deforestation from Factory Farming
Land Use and Deforestation (Credit: Factory Farming Awareness Coalition)
Forests sustain our life on Earth. And Factory Farms are destroying our forests at alarming rates. Forests are responsible for huge quantities of carbon in their biomass, making them critical carbon sinks. In order to grow feed for livestock, the agriculture industry is destroying forests around the world.
In the US, roughly 260 million acres of forested land have been cleared to make room for crops, and more than 67 percent of these crops — predominantly soy, corn and grains — become food for livestock, rather than food that is consumed directly by people.
Despite taking up so much land, meat and dairy products provide only 36 percent of the calorie content of the US food supply.
This deforestation crisis is global. In Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest, for example, animal agriculture is linked to 75 percent of historic deforestation, as ranchers burn forests in order to convert them to pasture for beef and leather.
Similarly, between 2000 and 2014, the Congo Basin — the world’s second largest rainforest — lost an area of forest the size of Bangladesh due to slash-and-burn deforestation.
While growing food is always going to require significant amounts of land and water, animal agriculture is particularly inefficient. Farm animals consume a third of the planet’s grain production and a third of the planet’s ice-free land.
If people primarily consumed plants, agriculture would be responsible for significantly less deforestation.