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Factory Farms Holding Too Much Power in Terms of Network Exchange Theory

http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/community/

It is surprising to see how powerful factory farms in the 21st century have become without most people realizing just how much of a monopoly factory farms have over the food we consume. Factory farms, also known as Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), have significantly negative impacts in many ways. To list just a few, factory farms treat animals like machines, exploit local farmers, rely on overdosing antibiotics to their livestock in unsafe manners, produce food that is often unhealthy for consumers, and cause environmental pollution in many ways.

Despite the abundance of meat in the states, factory farms did not better the eating conditions for the people. Instead of improving the quality, factory farms only aimed to improve the quantity in order to maximize their own profits. The plethora of cheap, processed foods available in most grocery shops are unhealthy, and the meat from factory farms are produced with antibiotics and artificial hormones. Although factory farms argue their presence can create more jobs and thus positively influence the local economy, that is not that case. Small local farmers across the nation have been put out of business due to the rise of factory farms. Factory farms have a complete grasp over small local farmers and have been taking advantage of them just as they do with their animals. Factory farms usually set unfair prices for livestock and crops, cheating small and medium farmers out of money they need to cover their costs. The companies get away with it because farmers often don’t have anywhere else to sell their products. In such manners, a small group of factory farms have been able to obtain almost a monopoly over meat production. These companies easily dominate the meat and poultry industries over small local farmers. Their control over these markets allows them to use oppressive contracts to squeeze both small producers and consumers.

This situation with factory farms and small local farmers seemed to reflect the network exchange theory we discussed in class. Factory farms act more than just as intermediaries between farmers and producers. Factory farms realize that most small local farmers depend on factory farms in order to sell their products. In addition, factory farms realize we as customers also depend on them in order to purchase the food we want. Thus, this situation is very similar to an exchange between a 3 node network. Both small local farmers and the customers are completely dependent on the middle node (factory farms) in order to obtain what we want. Realizing this, the middle node (factory farm) can maximize their profit by adjusting the bid and asking price in however way they want.

-Mark

 

 

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