We recently discovered a fascinating website called Factory Farm Map. While they are not advocates for moving away necessarily from animal-based agriculture, they nonetheless state their goals as follows:
"We wanted to illustrate something that people in rural America have known for a long time: independent family farms are being replaced by factory farms, and these facilities are overwhelming some regions of the country. This method of raising livestock harms rural communities and puts small family farms out of business. It takes away consumers’ choice at the grocery store, makes food safety problems happen on a larger scale, and creates more waste than the surrounding environment can adequately absorb. It keeps animals packed tightly together inside buildings and relies on overusing antibiotics, creating a perfect breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant superbugs that can make all of us sick."
This map provides a look at various forms of livestock production including dairy, cattle, hogs, birds raised for meat and egg laying hens. Visitors can click on any state and then by county. When you click on a particular county it gives you statistics as it relates to the number of animals farmed in that particular area.
The operators of this site do address animal welfare issues and how factory farms have exacerbated the problems associated with high stocking densities, intensive confinement and excessive antibiotic use:
"Factory farms also are detrimental to the animals themselves. Most factory-farmed hogs and chickens have no access to the outdoors and never see daylight. Beef cattle and dairy cows spend time outside, but they are confined to feedlots with no access to pasture or grass, which is what they are built to eat. The lack of outdoor access, inability to express natural behaviors, health problems and stress caused by production practices, and breeding designed to maximize weight gain or egg and milk production take a toll on animal welfare."
This can be a great resource for those doing research and anyone interested in understanding the potential environmental impact factory farming may have on a particular region of the country.