J500 Media and the Environment

Down on the Factory Farm by matthewtb
February 20, 2009, 1:25 pm
Filed under: Food + Health, Society + Media

chicks1My grandfather retired from Tyson in the late 1980s. He worked in a chicken hatchery for many years before developing respiratory complications.  This occurred by inhaling the down feathers, the chickens would molt. 

Today he spends his time tending to his small herd of cattle, that graze his conjoining pastures.  The cows are his hobby and he enjoys taking care of them.  Over the years the cows may come and go, but he isn’t in it for the money.  When he returns inside after a day with the herd, his agitated lungs cause him to cough excessively.

When we think of factory farms, like those owned by Tyson, an overcrowded building full of animals may come to mind.  One aspect about factory farms, sometimes overlooked, is the poor conditions the workers are exposed to.

Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, said that Tyson foods is now the largest meat packing business in the world.  Since my grandfathers retirement, the Tyson hatchery has replaced its workforce with immigrant labor.  These hispanic workers are susceptible to being exploited by companies like Tyson.  They are not earning the same salary or retirement benefits that my grandfather made.  Furthermore they are being exposed to the same health and safety issues that can cause permanent health problems.

Food quality and health concerns from these factory farms do not end with the food they sell.  The livelihood and well being of their workers are also in jeopardy.

-Matt Bristow

Image from www.deovolentefarm.com 


4 Comments so far
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It’s also sad to consider the conditions the animals are subjected to in addition to the workers. debeaking? overcrowding? Serious changes need to be made to the food industry.

Comment by meganr21

With all the attention (mostly negative) that factory farms get you never hear much about the workers and the conditions that they are subjected to. I’m glad you addressed it and brought it to my attention! Are their workers unions for factory farm employees?

Comment by christinaw09

It’s amazing how large of an impact Tyson has had on Kansas towns. Emporia is severely hurting after Tyson closed its factory there.

Comment by Lauren Keith

-This article only scratches the surface on the problems with factory farms. The treatment of animals at these facilities is indeed the largest concern.

-Many of the people who work at Tyson are part of the United Foods and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

-I find it interesting that both Wal-Mart (largest retailer) and Tyson (largest meat processor) come from Arkansas. It tells you that Arkansans now how to run a successful business regardless of what effects it may have on the world around them.

Comment by matthewtb

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