A small farm, consisting of cattle, crops & hogs. Just about 100 or so acres, in the middle of the midwest, with a few more acres rented to hold the cows and their calves. A normal day consists of feeding the cows, checking the hogs, and general farm chores. Maybe mending some fence or building a corral. Maybe bailing some hay or harvesting corn. The only full time employees are a seasoned farmer in his 60's and his son, with help from family when needed.
Now picture this...
Two long, white metal buildings. Inside there is anywhere from 3000 to 3500 pigs. They are housed in pens that hold 20 or so animals. Their feed comes out automatically into long metal feeders, and they have metal nipples along the side of the pens for water. The pigs walk on slated concrete floors, and under that is a holding pit for sewage. Sometimes the animals get sick and have to be treated with medication, sometimes through the waterline. The pigs spend about 6 weeks of their life in these barn, which are temperature controlled with fans and curtains along the side that lower up and down. Afterwards they are shipped off to another farm.
So tell me. Which of these two farms would you prefer to support? To buy your meat from? To visit?
Would you believe me if I told you that the two farms that I just described about are in fact the same place? Would you consider this place a family farm? Or a factory farm?
Both of those scenarios would be very accurate descriptions of the farm my husband and father-in-law run. On an average day on person could do chores by themselves, but it's easier with two. Two separate families are supported by this operation. They depend on this farm to be able to buy food and pay bills.
According to the web, the definition of a family farm is " a farm owned and operated by a family, and passed down from generation to generation." I would say that that describes our farm.
However, this is the definition of a factory farm - "a farm on which large numbers of livestock are raised indoors in conditions intended to maximize production at minimal cost". I would say that that also describes our farm, although I take issue with the term as our animals are not raised nor produced in a factory.
Whether you choose to raise your own meat animals, want to meet your food before it becomes your dinner, or just buy your meat from the store - there's no right or wrong way to go about it. What is wrong is placing blame and using derogatory terms to describe a farm that may not actually be what you imagine it to be. Do your research, reach out to the ag community. There are thousands of us that would be happy to have a conversation with you about where your food comes from and what we do for a living. I would be glad to find someone that could discuss with you the topic you have in mind.
The world isn't a black and white place, and neither is the average farm.