Protect vulnerable farmed animals in disaster prone areas
Over nine billion chickens, pigs, and cows are raised for food in the U.S. each year. Most of them spend their lives cooped up in tightly crowded barns or confined to cages, unable to live natural healthy lives.
Intensive farms tend to be in areas at high-risk for natural disasters. This is likely due to a combination of factors: the low cost of land, lax environmental or tax regulations in the region, zoning, and right-to-farm laws.
The concentration of farms and animals means that when disasters do strike, like during Hurricane Florence two years ago, millions of animals are killed and injured.
Climate change is increasing the severity and frequency of disasters. We must also work to build greater resilience to the consequences of a changing climate.
Certain areas of the US are at higher risk of for disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, blizzards or extreme heatwaves. These are vulnerable areas that are completely inappropriate for intensive farms for animals.
Animals confined to cages, like sows, laying hens, or veal calves, are unable to escape. During Hurricane Florence, industrial farmers chose to leave the animals locked up to drown to collect the insurance money.
These animals were treated like commodities, not like the sentient animals they are.
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Cage confinement also leads to physical weaknesses, lameness, and injury that can also inhibit an animal’s survival during disasters. Most animals in intensive farms also have compromised immune systems making them more susceptible to disease that may be exacerbated by a disaster, such as in the case of floods. That disease cannot be contained in a flood – it poisons the land and water around it harming other animals and humans as well.
The enormous number of animals on a single farm makes it impossible to evacuate them ahead of a predicted disaster. Further, state regulations or a farm’s insurance policy may actively prohibit farmers from releasing animals in a disaster so they can seek safety.